Index:
  Negura (Romania), 2003
Ablaze (Germany), 2001
Imhotep (Norway), 2001

More recent (new page):
Vampire Magazine (Netherlands), December 2005
Lords of Metal (Netherlands), December 2005
Metalfan (Netherlands), January 2006



Ablaze (Germany), 2001
Rahab interviewed by Florian Dammasch of Ablaze

1. There are not too many BM bands in the Dutch scene it seems, in fact only Liar of Golgotha is pretty well-known, and Altar is no BM band at all. Nevertheless there’s no band with the quality standard of Ordo Draconis. What did you do different (and better obviously) than other bands, what makes you so special? Does it make you proud to be the top of a whole country’s BM scene (I’m sure you are!)?

Rahab: No warming up rounds – a tough question to start off with! Let me start by saying that I consider the composing and playing of music as an artistic expression. I do not think art and competition go together. So I’ll have to answer you question negatively – I am not proud of „our position“ in the scene, because I don’t think in such terms. I wouldn‘t be able to think of a criterium to determine a band’s ranking…. But if one would suggest it should be sales-figures, bands like Liar of Golgotha and Cirith Gorgor are way ahead of us. However, I most certainly am proud of the things that we have accomplished with Ordo Draconis so far, with the recent release of our debut full-length album „The Wing & The Burden“ as a highlight for the time being. Since each band has their own goals as for what they want to achieve, it’s pretty difficult to speak about a „quality standard“ in general terms. The fact that music is subject to preference/taste colours one’s judgement as far as the quality of band goes. I wouldn’t dare saying there’s no other band around in the Dutch black metal scene applying the same qualitity standard as we do. To me it’s kind of irrelevant too. Within Ordo Draconis we have our own goals and the band-internal quality standard is the only one that makes sense to me. Eversince we started out with Ordo Draconis we have applied the basic rule „either we are going to do the things we do as good as we can, or we won’t do them at all“. We firmly believe in the things we do and the music we are creating and this makes it easier to invest in that. I can only tell you why Ordo Draconis is so special to me – Ordo Draconis‘ music is a projection of my being which reveals my core, my essence. I have a very strong „relationship“ with our songs and an even stronger one with specific individual parts/riffs – they all carry a certain charge or burden, that I added when I composed them or heard/played them for the first. I think I am able to recall the specific circumstances of composing for my entire contibution to the bands work. Apart from the music itself, the synergy within the band is very dear to me. Ordo Draconis consists of five individuals with their own view on things and their own personal qualities. So far I think we have succeeded pretty well in setting collective goals and maximizing the usage of our individual qualities to the band’s advantage.

2. Ordo still is a rather young band, actually such mature bands are mostly already older than you. What gives you these visionary, unresting spirit to play music and to work so hard to realize these goals?

Rahab: I think there are two aspects of importance. First the urge to create, music in our case. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of composing and I love it‘s dynamic process, sometimes devastating, sometimes leading to euphoria, always exhausting, yet never boring. When the transition from soul to mind and from mind to the various instruments is made succesfully there is this orgasmic sensation – maybe that sounds silly but it’s the closest comparison I can think of in terms of intensity and euphoria. It should be clear that our music is very personal to me as well as to the other band members. It’s only logical then that we want to „preserve“ it in a way that honours our songs, so by recording them decently. The second aspect deals with the presentation and the spreading of the music. The urge to compose will always be stronger than me and if other people will hear what I’ve created or not is subordinate, or even irrelevant in that matter. However I would be lying if I was to say that I don’t care at all about what other people think about our music. Ordo Draconis‘ music means a great deal to me and it surely gives me satisfaction if it means something (special) to others as well, if they can relate to it in some sense. We all are proud of our creations and we want to present to others what we have made. Apart from personal taste and a longing for perfection, it is only practical to present your material in a decent way, in order to reach as many people that might like our music as possible.

3. Imagine Ordo would’ve been founded 10 years ago, in the beginning of the 90s. Do you think it would’ve been the same revolutionary music like it is today, or did you need some „idols“ to influence your work? What would be the position Ordo had if you had started 5 years earlier with the same standard like today?

Rahab: I really don’t know what would have happened if we had started out 10 years ago. The music would have been different for sure - we were different persons back then obviously and many musical influences have affected me in these last ten years. I’m not too fond of the word „idol“ – it brings to mind a certains association of worship, but of course there are bands and artists, both in and outside the metals scene, that I respect a lot and that have affected me in my musical development. This holds for every band member, I guess. In the end every musician has his or her influences, that’s simply inevitable. It’s just a matter of how one deals with these influences. It has never been our aim to copy another band, we try and blend our influences together to forge something new. I do not think I am the right person to comment on weither or not our music is or would have been revolutionary. During the first couple of years it has struck me a couple of times, like "If only we had been there a little earlier, things would have been so much easier with fewer bands around and stuff“… but we weren’t and I guess I prefer looking at the band’s future. Throughout the existence of Ordo Draconis I think we have grown more and more self-conscious; we know our qualities and our restrictions and I am pretty much at piece with that. There are still so many things I would like to try and experience – it’s more constructive to work towards future goals than to mourn over possible opportunities if the band would have existed earlier, I think.

4. You’ve sold over 1000 copies of your demo tape, which is more than impressive for today’s standards. The material on that demo still is very good I think, and you’ve already re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“ for the album – so, will you use the songs from that demo anywhere again? Are there still request on the tape?

Rahab: I almost totally sure that we will not use any more songs from „When the Cycle Ends“ in their original form. We re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“, because we had the opinion it could have been better than the demo-version eversince we recorded. The flutes were already intended for the original version, but it was impossible to properly record them back then. Though I generally prefer the first version of a song – I guess my rather conservative character is to blame here – I think we did a good job on this one. The CD-version is more aggressive and thet suits the song and I really love Bob’s guitar solo, playing in harmony with the low whistle. I would like the idea of using the main theme from „The Nightwander“ someday, but I still have to find a suitable purpose for it. Don’t know if it will ever happen. The demo tape is as good as sold out. Over 1200 copies have been spread and indeed there’s still a request for the tape

5. After the demo your style changed quite a lot, became much more independent, aggressive and „own“. What caused that radical and fast development within only about one and a half year?

Rahab: I’m not able to point out a specific cause – in my view changes never have been that radical. There never has been a point where we said: “Now we are going to do things differently!“. The only reason I can think of is a development in composing/arranging-skills as well as in playing skills. I mean, when we recorded our demo-tape Midhir and myself were handling our instruments less than a year and you can imagine that technical capacities sometimes were an obstacle in realizing what we really wanted. Apart from that, I guess the start of a band is characterized by a period of crystalisation – everything has to take shape: the division of tasks within the band, the way of composing, of communicating as well as an understanding about and a view on the music itself. I’m not saying there’s no development in such matters today, but back then Ordo Draconis was a tabula rasa and that’s not the case anymore. As for the speed of our development, I think it’s mainly due to ambition to improve, to become a better musician and a better composer. We constantly try to push our limits a little further and I guess our general approach towards our music helps to improve: In principle the composition as such is „sacred“ and it often happens that we have a long way to go, when the composing is done, before we actually are able to properly play the parts. It’s always an interesting challenge though and I have the belief that the compostion has to big an intrinsic value to simply adjust it to where you’re standing as far as playing skills go. I can imagine that the results of this approach were most noticable during the earliest period of the band’s existence. The steps of progress are always the biggest at the beginning of a learning-curve.

6. Already back in 1999 it was obvious that Ordo aims for higher goals (in the artistic sense) than most bands ever will. What might be the final endpoint of the development you’ve taken, what is the „ideal“ you try to reach?

Rahab: There’s not a fixed „final destination“ – I think that would only have a stagnating influence on the band’s development. The development of the band is a goal in itself: improving our musical and composing skills in order to capture the specific atmospheres and emotions we want to express. I think that emotion and atmosphere are the essential in music and all the means that enhance them are justified. Of course we have a number of dreams and things we want to realise. In order to get there we do set „short term goals“. There is a number of musical challenges I want confront myself with – simply ideas of things I want to try and if they work out, we’ll incorporate them into a song. Quite some examples of that can also be found on „The Wing & the Burden“ as well, like the re-arranged „Danse Macabre“-part in the song „Necropolis“, the canon-piece (where all the instruments play the same thing, but not at the same time – intentionally;-)) in „Tiphareth- the Burning Balance“, a re-arranged part of a piece for classical guitar by Carcassi to which we added a second guitar part in „the Rite…“ and so on. Current future dreams are the realisation of our second album and to do some touring.

7.„In Speculis Noctis“ has been sold as a demo-cd, it was a highly professional release though that could’ve been easily released by a label. Don’t you think it hinders the right sight of people on your work to degrade such a release to demo?

Rahab: I don’t see it as a degredation. When we made „In Speculis Noctis“ we wanted to make a statement with that release, like „this is what we are capable of on our own; we believe in what we’re doing and we dare to invest in it ourselves“. The statement was not only addressed to others, but also to ourselves. I am very proud of that release and I am happy we did things the way we did. We had received a contract-offer from a record label after „When the Cycle Ends“, but since the demo-tape was more like a polished rehearsal recording, we wanted to gain studio-experience before recording our debut album. I think it was a wise decision to do so and we benefitted a lot from it while recording „The Wing & the Burden“. The basic purpose of the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ was a demonstrating one – even the title of the MCD refers to its demo-character. „In Speculis Noctis“ simply is what it is: a (professional) demo and I see no use in calling it differently.

8. Over 1300 copies have been spread of the MCD, which is again fantastic and more than most labels sell of an average release. How were you able to do that, and do you think it was the perfect help for any label you may have signed to? Have you ever heard of such a selling success a band without a label gained in the end of the last decade?

Rahab: I’m not exactly sure about the amount of copies sold, but at least 1300 indeed. We thought it was particularly important that as many people as possible would get ahold of a copy and would hear our music – therefore we created a scenario in which we would succeed in breaking even, but would still be able to offer the CD for a low price: 10 guilders (about 9 DM). Since the whole lay-out of the CD is prodone it was easy to convince people to buy a copy. At the Dynamo festival‘99 alone we sold 500 copies in 2 days. I think we spread about 25000 flyers and did quite a number of interviews, also in bigger magazines like Legacy, Legion and Rock Brigade. I really must add that we were very lucky in getting a lot of wonderful help and support from friends – something I am incredibly thankful for. I guess it is always good for a label if a band is already know in the underground before they are signed –I mean, it is likely that it will offer some guarantee in the sales. On the other hand, before we got signed I had this thought that labels might think we would be to stubborn and too much perfectionist, wanting to do things our way. I was afraid that this could stand in the way for us to get a record deal – fortunately it didn’t eventually. I really don’t keep track of sales by other bands, so – no I haven’t heard of other private releases selling this well, but that might not be that strange considering my ignorance on other band’s sales. I know that the demo-tapes of Sirius and Ephel Duath should have sold 1200 and over 1300 copies respectively…

9. In general, are you of the opinion that it was the right decision to do a second „demo“? Is there really such a vast improvement on the album compared to the mini?

Rahab: No doubt it was the right decision – the first time in the Excess-studios for the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ we still had to grow accustom to the way things go down in a studio. It was a good idea to do this before recording our first album. I remember I was very nervous the first time – for the recording of „The Wing & the Burden“ we were much better prepared. We had done a pre-production in our rehearsing centre, where also studio equipment is present. My entire attitude towards the recording itself was better I think, I felt more of a constructive, ambitious tension then a suffocating fear that things might not turn out as good as I wanted them, which had struck me the first time I was in the studio. I certainly think we have improved a lot on „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“. We have chosen for a more transparant sound, in which all the individual instruments a separately identifiable. On „In Speculis Noctis“ there were constanly parts that seemed to drown. We make a kind of music that is pretty difficult to produce I guess; it’s rather stuffed, lots of things going on and a lot of details. I think it was quite a challenge for our producer Hans Pieters as well to find a right balance in two or three guitarlines and two or three keyboard lines played at the same time. Apart from that, our improved playings skills allowed us to have a more transparent productions, because there were fewer flaws to be covered op by effects. I think the production is a very honest one. As for the material on the album itself – though I don’t like the expression too much, I guess you might call it more mature. It’s much more complex when you analyse it, but as I mentioned before the atmosphere should take up the central place in our music, so it was a challenge to create music that can be listened to at several levels. I wouldn’t like it if our music would become inaccesible due to technical twiddley bits – playing skills are subordinate to the songs, not the other way around. I think we have succeeded in preserving the atmosphere and making the songs more adventurous, both to play and to listen to. This makes things more interesting for us.

10. About one year ago (is it really that long ago... ?!) you got in contact with the German label Skaldic Art. Probably it would’ve been possible to sign with any other label I’d say. Tell the readers what caused you to choose Skaldic Art, what’s so special about the concept, what is important for you with a label in general...

Rahab: At the end of 1999, with the help of a very dear friend, I got in touch with Vratyas Vakyas who had just released the first two albums on Skaldic Art (by Furthest Shore and Obsidian Gate). He was the first to show a strong interest in a cooperation with Ordo Draconis after the release of „In Speculis Noctis“. We had a great number of long conversations during which we discussed practical as well as ideological and philosophical topics, not forgetting the German policy towards killer dogs and a desire fluid chocolate pudding!! It was clear from the start that the right intention was there with both parties. Being an artist with a strong longing for artistic freedom himself, Vratyas created a label policy in which the artistic achievements of a band take up a central place. All label activities are done in a continous consultation with the bands, so that everything may be done as much according to the ideals of the bands as possible. Since Ordo Draconis have strong ideas about how we would like to see things, this is as an aspect that appealed to us very much. Not to create any misunderstandings: Vratyas is not some kind of label-slave who does everything „his“ bands tell him to; freedom only excists within restriction and it has a „price“: personal responsibility. Through Skaldic Art, Vratyas offers potential: opportunities that bands can either take or leave. In either case, they’ll have to take the consequences of that. In my view that’s no less than reasonable. Another interesting consequence of Vratyas‘ approach is respectful and friendly relationship between the individual bands on the label; bands show interest in what the other bands are doing and are trying to support eachother and to help eachother out. I think that’s pretty unique The most important things we demand from a label in general are total artistic freedom and decent conditions to record and release our albums (especially sufficient studio budget, and decent promotion and distribution)

11. How high do you rate the chances of a good development of both the band and the label in co-operation? Will Skaldic Art grow with the help of Ordo, and vice-versa? Do you have any expectations by the way concerning the work the label should do?

Rahab: I am very fond of figures, but I don’t think I’d be able to make an adequate estimation of the chance of a good development for both parties – it’s not that I am that sceptic about the odds. Skaldic Art’s label policy deserves a lot of respect in my view, but it’s not without risk. Though sticking to ideals can be very rewarding and is a whole lot more important than making lots of money, it sometimes has a high price in financial terms – I hope that will never be an unovercomeable issue for Skaldic Art. Of course I hope we can grow together and that our cooperation will be fruitful for both parties, but it is impossible to actually predict such thing. The only thing that I do know for sure is that we will, or as a matter of fact, already are doing our very best to support both Ordo Draconis and Skaldic Art. Both band and label are convinced of eachothers qualities and are both optimistic and curious about how things will develop with the new releases (apart from „The Wing & the Burden“, Obsidian Gate’s second album „Collosal Christhunt“ has just been released).

12. Is the relation you have with Skaldic Art’s boss Vratyas Vakyas an uncommon, special one you wouldn’t expect actually? How important is it for you to have such a personal relationship in a co-operation?

Rahab: It’s not the kind of relation I had expected myself at first instance. I had expected a more formal understanding between band and label… and the formal part is present, there simply is more. I think I was pretty reserved at first instance – I mean, I am walking around in the underground long enough to know it’s wiser to be cautious than to fully trust someone at first instance. Even if there are no bad intentions, people often say things in their enthusiasm that they simply are not able to realise. I guess that’s only natural – though I think I am reasonably selfconscious and down to earth, I can’t deny being guilty of over-enthusiasm occasionally. Anyway, Vratyas‘ competence came shining through soon enough and I opened up more for the informal contact Vratyas wants to have with „his“ bands. We are in frequent contact and have developed a personal friendship over the last year that is very dear to me. Occasionally we meet each other. I can’t tell how important it is to have a more personal understanding or even a friendship with one‘s label-boss, for I have no comparison. I simply know I am happy that things are the way they are – Vratyas is an animating, inspiring character, who I respect and with whom I can disagree.

13. The preparations for the album „The Wing & the Burden“ have been vast again, you even did a complete pre-production on your own. What was the reason to do that, and did it help anything in order to improve on the final production?

Rahab: The reason for the pre-production was to get a clear sight on song-parts that would need adjustment and to get a view on songs/parts that deserved extra attention in the preparation. Apart from that, such a recording is perfect to practice at home by playing along. Though it was a costly effort, I think it payed off. For me it was a good indication of what remained to be done before entering the studio. It was also the pre-production that made us decide not to use any distortion on the bass-guitar

14. Long before the final recording of the album it seemed to be clear the both Bob and Moloch intended to leave the band due. Again, what have been the reasons for these decisions? Did it influence the enthusiasm and skills in the band in any way? In the end, it turned out that both members decided to stay. Did the rest of the band have influence on that or did they do that on their own? Finally, Ordo is an order, and somebody can’t leave an order that easily – did that problems strengthen the order in the end?

Rahab:The whole situation had it’s roots in private life – I don’t want to comment on that. Due to this there arose a tension in the band. We came to a point that it was necessary to have a good conversation and so we did. The outcome was that Bob and Moloch would leave, but not before the recording of the album was finished. They saw that it would have been to big a loss if they wouldn’t at least complete what we had been working for all this time. From that point everything was clear and the tension had gone – we only focussed on recording the album as well as we could. Though the loss would have been incredible, the rest of the band respected their decision and aquiesced in it. Ordo Draconis would have continued without them. The recording of the album, the whole way towards it and the final outcome were very special for all band members and led Bob and Moloch to re-evaluate their situation and made them decide to continue with Ordo Draconis, which is the best outcome I could have wished for. In some sense the arriving departure of Bob and Moloch did influence our enthusiasm and our skills. The album would be the final chapter of a certain stage of the band. And because there was no case of personal wars going on inside the band and we had been together for four years, we were extra motivated to create something beautiful for this final chapter to which we could all look back with pride. If we had any influence on the choice of Bob and Moloch to stay, it would be that we left them their own choice, which we would respect no matter what. Haha, it’s not really like we are an hermetic order, though the line up has been stable for over 4 years. The decision to leave was very hard on them – it’s not like they were keen on quitting or anything, and even if they would have left they probably would have stayed involved as session members („You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!“). I can affirm that the whole situation has strengthened the band; it are such events that make you realise that you really have something special going on!

15. Is it possible that some members of the band have very different tastes concerning music and style in general? If yes, did that ever cause any problems for the cooperation and the aims in the band?

Rahab: Na, I won’t deny that we are a bunch of stubborn bastards with different and diverse tastes for music. But that is something we new from the start and I think we have found a way to deal with that. Of course there are moments of discussion and arguing, but never in a hostile way. In the end we all have the same goal: creating music that means something to us. We respect eachother for being perfectionists and each one of us is self-conscious enough to know he (including myself of course) isn’t the easiest person to deal with. Most of us are open-minded to experimenting and incorporating new influences into the songs. Like I mentioned before – all influences and means are legitimate as long as the help in creating a certain atmosphere. Bob and Moloch have a second band (resp. Bad Wurm and Dark Remains) in which they can use their creativity for other styles of music. I think the diversity in musical taste has only enriched the band, I don’t recall situations were it lead to problems. If someone comes with an idea that the rest of the band doesn’t like, even after experimenting with it, we just drop it…

16. The style on the album hasn’t changed too much, it has become technically more skilled, more mature and ripe and sometimes more aggressive, but still focussed on the atmosphere. Where do you see the „big“ differences to the former recordings? In my eyes it’s a pretty complete sounding album, showing an own style in all songs.

Rahab: It think I already answered most of this question in my answer to question 9. I pretty much agree with your description of the changes (technically more skilled, more mature and sometimes more aggressive, yet still focused on the atmosphere… could have said so myself, hahaha – I’m going to plagiarize you on this one in interviews to come ;-)) Na, the changes you mentioned are big enough for me, together with an improved production and better and more inventive composing. The next release might see some more radical differences, we deliberately shifted those songs to the next album. But like „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“, it will still be recognisably Ordo Draconis.

17. You’ve compared yourself to Dissection or Arcturus during the times of the first demo. Both CDs show that you’re much more independent than you probably guess yourselfs – so, you aren’t still of the opinion you can be compared to any band, are you?

Rahab: I wouldn’t put it as strong as to say we compared ourselves to Arcturus and Dissection – the flyer says „somewhat in the vein of…“, just to offer some kind of reference. I think it’s inevitable to give at least some clue or direction of what you sound like as a demo band. As a matter of fact I think it’s still important, I mean, not in the sense that we are copying the bands we mention or that there is a close comparison, but that our general approach is about the same. Apart from the fact that I would never have the arrogance to label our music „totally original“, it doesn’t say shit either… because what does „totally original“ sound like? It’s more useful to name some bands, like Emperor and Arcturus for instance… I think these bands could give some indication of what we sound like.

18. Most of the music on the album is very well-balanced between guitars and keyboards dominating the atmosphere, which is very seldom actually. How do you compose the songs, still like the years before or did anybody become the musical mastermind in the meantime?

Rahab: No, the way of composing is still the same – we have juste started to use computer sofware to help with composing – the first experiments have come out well. The „division of tasks“ hasn’t changed much – there is not one musical mastermind in Ordo Draconis. Midhir, Bob and myself are responsible for the basic ideas and song-structures and we arrange the songs with the entire band. In the end everybody is responsible for his exact parts to play, but we always try to preserve this balance you mentioned. We still work from a basic concept or theme for a song, before composing it. The lyrics are written after wards.

19. Do you write the lyrics to finished songs, or totally parted of each other? Is it important that both fit together concerning the atmosphere? Do the members who don’t contribute anything to the lyrics care about their contents though?

Rahab: No, the lyrics are written when the music is finished. The lyrics are to delicate a matter to be written separately – they have to fit into the music perfectly in order to obtain the right synergy between lyrics and music. Like I mentioned before the subject or the concept for the lyrics is already detemined before the composing of the music, so from that point on, our lyricists (Moloch & Midhir) can already start working on what they want to put in, but content only take their final shape when the music is ready. I should add that it has happened that Moloch completely revised his lyrics, because the initial ones didn’t satisfy him anymore. I think everybody in the band cares about the contents of the lyrics, though not to the same extent. Since there’s a link between the lyrics and the music it’s almost impossible not to care about the contents. The topics of our lyrics generally interest me as a person and I always read the lyrics to a song as soon as I can. Because I really like a graceful use of language, figures of speech and the use of metaphors, the lyrics of Midhir appeal to me most and we sometimes discuss them. I think his poetic expression and his use of the English language is of a standard seldomly seen in the black metal scene, even with bands who have English as their native language. A complaint for some might be that his lyrics are difficult to understand, because of his extensive vocabulary and the use of abstractions. Moloch’s lyrics are much more direct and easier to comprehend for „sheer mortals“ like myself, though his references to the occult are often beyond my knowledge. For „The Wing & the Burden“ he also started using historical events as topics for his lyrics, like with „The Rite of Catherina de Medicis“, which is interesting I think.

20. You’ve written about themes that are not very typical for BM bands I’d say (and actually Ordo isn’t a common BM band...), even if they fit into a certain „dark“ scheme. Do the two writes identify themselves with the themes the other one writes about as well, and is it possible for them to express the most important things they like to say by writing lyrics?

Rahab: For Moloch it’s a necessity to identify with Midhir’s lyrics, at least to some extent, because he handles the vocals. It’s hard for me to judge to what extent the two of them identify with the lyrics written by the other one. I do not wish to speak for them. I can only guess about the second question too and I prefer not to – you really would have to ask the two of them.

21. The production of „The Wing & the Burden“, carefully listened to, is one of the best productions that have been delivered during the last two years in that style I’d say. How would you describe the main charasteristics of your production, and why did you choose the Excess Studio? Do you think it would’ve been possible to get the same result in another studio as well?

Rahab: Well thank you for the compliment, though there is always space for improvement, we are indeed quite content with the production ourselves. I would describe the production like clear, balanced and definable, but still with power. We returned to the Excess Studios for a couple of reasons. First, we were happy with the job Hans Pieters did on „In Speculis Noctis“. I think he’s a pleasant person to work with and having worked with bands like Sinister, Danse Macabre, Houwitser and After Forever to name but a few he’s pretty experienced. Second, we were already familiar with Hans‘ way of working and the Excess Studio itself, so we immediately felt at ease with that. And third the studio is not too far from where we live so we could go home and didn’t have to get bored stiff in the studio when there was nothing to do. In another studio the result obviously would have been different, but it might have turned out equally good – as long as the equipment is there, there is an experienced person present as a producer and we feel at ease recording, we may get a good result anywhere. A return to the Excess Studios simply was the most obvious choice and it’s likely we will record there again

22. You’ve mentioned two things long time ago concerning the album – the first one was „maybe we’re going to use some electronic beats“ and the other one was „probably we’re recording a song that has a pretty folky theme and differs from the other songs“. Well, nothing has become reality in the end. Why not?

Rahab: Hey, don’t give up on me too soon. We did compose a track with a part which has electronic beats, but we decided to shift it to the next album. In general the next album will see a little more experimenting in the rhythm section, I think. However there’s not to much I want or dare to say about it – sometimes views change. The song with the folky song was intended to be recorded during the „In Speculis Noctis“-sessions. There wasn’t enough time though and since the song sounds rather different from the other material, it was the first to be left out. I don’t think we will ever record it in it’s original version, but it’s very well possible that we will use some of the riffs for a future song. The song was called „The Ritual“ and it was unique in the sense that it is the only song we ever composed to whom somebody outside the band contributed the lyrics. We never played the song live either, wouldn‘t have been the same anyway, because it was supposed to contain a rather long accoustic part.

23. Did you already receive any reactions from fans, magazines etc. for the album? I can imagine that not too many people will comprehend the essence of the Ordo sound, not explore the depth you have. Would you limit the circle of Ordo-listeners if possible, or would you regard it as positive if everybody tries to listen to it?

We didn’t receive that many reactions yet – at the moment that I am writing these lines the album isn’t even officially released. But the response we got so far is pretty good, but still diverse. Some have told me it’s quite a lot in the vein of „In Speculis Noctis“ and others said it is way more complex and that it’s difficult to comprehend the songs at first instance. As a matter of fact the latter is entirely what we had intended – listening to the album should be a challenge!, an adventurous journey on which you discover new details with each hearing for a long time. However it’s not intended to be so complex that the complexity becomes a barrier for experiencing the atmosphere of the songs. The music can be listened to on more than one level. I once said myself, that after the recording, I wanted to be able to listen to the album and discover new details myself despite the fact that I was involved in the composing; well that’s something we succeeded in. An interesting aspect is that the people outside the metal scene that I demonstrated our material to, were very impressed. At the end of last year I had a guitar teacher over at my place who had graduated music school and had transcribed clavesimbel pieces by Bach to classical guitar. He was interested in what I was doing with Ordo Draconis, so I put on an advance of the album. He must have told me at least 8 times that he was very impressed by our music… he only couldn’t appreciate the vocals, haha! I guess it should be clear from our approach to our music that we want to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to have a listen. It’s not our aim to keep our audience restricted – on the other hand we won’t make any musical consessions in order to reach a larger audience. But I do hope many people will make the effort to have a listen to „The Wing & the Burden“

24. On the release party you did in March you’ve invited 100 listeners to be present, not more. That seems to be very personal. Is Ordo’s music „personal“ music as well, nothing that could be played besides watching TV or in a club maybe? If you like, tell something about the success of the release party and for what purpose you’ve done it.

Rahab: The release-patry was not a matter of personal invitation or anything. We held our CD-presentation on the 10th March in Gouda in a place called „De Gonz“. This simply felt right, because it is there, that everything started and where we did our first gig and so on. Many regular visitor accompany us on gigs, no matter where we play. We have a very loyal following - somethig to be vey grateful for! I was one of the best days I can recall, with so many great friends being present, our label mates Vindsval opening up and playing an excellent and succesful gig and our own gig was one of the best we ever did I think. The moments of holding our debut-CD in my hands for the first time and sharing the happiness and relief with the people who realised this work will stick to my mind, always! The party afterwards was great as well, as well as the response from the audience that seemed to be impressed. What the purpose for the release-party was? Celebrating our debut album, an effort for which we have worked our asses off for 4 years, with people who care about Ordo Draconis, like our music or what ever… To me our music will always be very personal of course – the first couple of dozen hearings I wasn’t able to do anything apart from listening and sitting paralysed. I don’t think there’s any use in saying where, under which circumstances and by whom our music should be played. I know I prefer to listen to it when I’m alone.

25. In the very nicely designed booklet one can see that all members wear paintings, live you’ve played without make-up. Most people say only „true BM have the legitimation to wear paintings“, and in fact you aren’t. When and why do you it though?

Rahab: The use of corpse paint has been a personal matter and a personal decision ever since the very beginning of the band. The last couple of gigs no one in the band has used it, which doesn’t mean no one will use it ever again. To me corpsepaint is a form of dramatic expression, an emphesis of the contrast in myself which shines through in our music… as such it can impossibly lose it’s meaning, which it obviously hasn’t. However, there are a number of practical reasons, which led to not using corpsepaint by me. Like I said – it is an emphasis, not an essential to me, and I decided I wanted to focus on the essence: our music, at the moment. In a live environment that is easier for me when I don’t have paint my face half an hour before I get on stage – I prefer to prepare myself in a different way. As for „most people“, maybe some of them would care to explain to me, why it wouldn’t be legitimate for me to wear corpsepaint. I do think Ordo Draconis play true black metal in the only sense that is relevant: that it is sincere, that we are true to ourselves. We do the things we do for a reason and most of the time those reasons are well thought through. We do not need or want a fake image to appeal to other people – this is the same kind of basic principle I already mentioned in the question relating to Skaldic Art: the artistic aspect of the music should always be the essential. We are not going to make music and create an image of ourselves that’s miles apart from who we are and what we want to do, just to sell more records or to get more publicity. There is something like personal integrity and violating that (i.e. pretending to be something you’re not), is even worse than musical prostitution (making a kind of music only because it appeals to others) in my view. I have been wondering through the black metal underground for over ten years now and I think that is quite some time to think over ones personal views concerning the music, the scene, etc. I wonder what convincing argument „most people“ might have, that would deny me the use of a well-thought-through and suitable emphesis of the music that I have (partly) composed myself. Apart from that, I am always kind of curious what criteria people have for judging how „true“ a band or a person is. I sometimes have the impression that „most people“ (for I don’t believe it are most people) have the interesting and sophisticated belief there exists a connection between „trueness“ and „playing skills“ analogue to the Heisenberg-equation. (for those, less engaged in quantum physics: the more you have of one, the less you have of the other)

26. For gigs you have a female session bass player. What can you tell us about her, except for the fact that she’s very beautiful and seems to be a good musician? ;-) Why did Moloch decide not to play bass anymore, not in the studio nor live?

Rahab: At a certain point Moloch mentioned he wanted to entirely focus on his skills as a frontman and a vocalist. I also believe this is the field were his main talents lie. The bass hanging around his neck had become a burden to him in giving the performance he wanted to give. So he decided to quit playing the bass. For studio activities this was no problem at all, because our other guitarist Bob handles the bass in his second band so he could easily fill the gap while recording, As a matter of fact it was even easier to match the guitar and the bass-parts. For playing-live there was a problem. Fortunately, Moloch knew somebody perfect for the job, namely Digna. At first instance she would only play along for a certain period, but things worked very well: we got along fine on a personal levels and her skills as a musician are excellent apart from the fact she really bangs her head off on stage. So we decided to have her as a permanent session bass-player. Unfortunately, she recently had to quit her activities for Ordo Draconis because of her graduation and her own band Imbolc, which is one of the best upcoming bands from Holland I know by the way! They play fast black metal double vocals and with touches of Naglfar and Aeternus, with some death metal influences as well. They recently recorded their first demo which should be available soon and which I strongly recommend! At the moment we are looking for a new, more permant solution for the bass-guitar live.

27. You still have, with a full line-up, the opportunity to play concerts. Will you use that chance as often as possible? There are some rumours of a tour with Falkenbach you may support if possible. Any other plans for bigger concerts? Festivals maybe?

Rahab: Until we have a permanent solution for the bass, we will not actively search for more gigs I guess – for the gigs that are still planned, Moloch will handle the bass again. There are no huge gigs or festivals planned. We all have rather busy lives with demanding jobs and studies. Then there are things like relationships, second bands and hobby’s like Arco’s designing activities and his Moongleam Distribution and for me Mandrake Magazine. Since there are only 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it wouldn't be possible or at least desirable to play each week at least two gigs. But one or two gigs a month is perfect. It would be fantastic to support Falkenbach on a tour! Let’s say, I heard the rumour as wel. The intentions are there, now let’s see if we can make it work. It’s something I have dreamt of since we began – to go on a tour. My ideas about touring are really not that romantic, I just want to experience it at least once. And of course it would be great to play as a support act for Vratyas‘ Falkenbach, since there is mutual respect both on a musical and a personal level. I do not think the gap on bass would offer any serious problems for a tour, even if therr wouldn’t be a permanent solution then, I think finding a temporary one should be too big a problem.

28. Surely you already do have ideas for new songs, and I have to ask that: how are they going to sound in your opinion? What will change on the next album? Choirs maybe, that would suit quite well... ;-) You’ve told me once that you like Indian traditional music. Will that influence your sound in the future, both music-wise and in „ideology“/contents?

Rahab: At this point about 4 new song-structuress are finished, but I wouldn’t be able to give an general indication of the development. Two of the songs are part of trilogy, a rather ambitious project about which I do not want to say too much at this stage, because it will only give rise to expectations that we may not be able to meet in the end. The whole thing will have to crystallize a little more. We will need to make quite some efforts to make the whole thing work and it’s absolutely sure we will need help from outside the band as well. I am searching for the right people to do the job. I can say that it is our intention to experiment some more with vocals and rhythms… so choirs… who knows? I have a rather broad taste in music nowadays. Next to metal and classical music, I listen a lot to Dead Can Dance, Loreena McKennitt, Faith and the Muse and Govinda. Wordly and traditional music in general interest me, though I do not have a very large collection myself. A friend of mine introduced me to some traditional Indian music and I thought it quite interesting. I doubt it will have an enormous impact on what Ordo Draconis sounds like, but of course it does influence me to some extent and it might always lead to some experiment. From an ideological point I don’t think there will be any influence.

29. You’ve planned to record two songs for your solo-project some time ago, that seems to have been canceled in order to make the Ordo album as perfect as possible. Are you going to work on it again now? Any news about how it would sound, any details?

Rahab: It’s not a solo-project really, it is rather personal though. As a matter of fact these are the two songs of the trilogy I just mentioned – initially there were only going to be two songs, but it turned out a third one would fit into the concept as well. So the project wasn’t called off, it was only shifted to the next album, because it would have been too ambitious for a first album or a 7“. I think I have told everything I wanted about the songs in my answer to the previous question. If I ever will do a solo project besides Ordo Draconis, it is probably going to be on acoustic guitar. Most of my contribution to our music is composed on acoustic guitar, but throughout the years I have composed a number of pieces that I do not wish to, or can’t be used for Ordo Draconis. I guess I would like to record those once, but we’ll see.

30. Alright then, seems to have become a longer interview though... ;-) Are you a friend of „last words“? If yes... if not, tell something different. ;-) Thanks for answering!

Rahab: First of all, a major thanx to you for this fantastic interview as well as for everything you have done for us in the past. I think I have said more than enough to hold my piece now. People interested in knowing our band some more can also check our website at www.ordodraconis.com, where they can download some of our music. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a number of gigs in Germany soon!


Imhotep Zine

Mir-h iD & Rahab interviewed by Bertrand Garnier of Imhotep Zine

Welcome to Imhotep, Rahab! I was having a look at your (excellent) website the other day, and saw this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sections. I suppose it is intended at avoiding the same old boring introducing questions like bio and such, isn’t it?

Midhir: Hi Bertrand! I’ll be taking over from Rahab for the most part, so you might have to slightly adjust a few of your questions. Rahab has relieved me of some of the questions though. About the website. Absolutely, some questions are asked in virtually every interview we get. The FAQ section could be a helpful resource. It would be a painstaking and time-consuming exertion to wade through all the interviews to find the answer you’re looking for. Anyway, here is your long-awaited interview:

1. So my first question will be: why did you choose the name Ordo Draconis? Could you please introduce the band, its members and your musical concept?

Midhir: Well, after my modest entrance, I’ll give you a cursory band history. Ordo Draconis was formed in 1996, and after a change of drummer we had the line-up as it has been up till now, which is Rahab (guitar), Bob (guitar), Moloch (vocals), Arco (drums) and I, Midhir (synthesizers). The first demo we produced was “When the Cycle Ends” (1997), which wasn’t initially intended as a demo, but that’s how things eventually came about. The reponse was excellent (it has now sold out at 1234 copies). At the time we felt it wouldn’t be wise to plunge into the studio for a full-length album. We felt we still had to learn one thing and another, and so we recorded “In Speculis Noctis” (1999), this time in a professional studio. “In Speculis Noctis” was really a positive statement which confronted the world (actually ourselves) with what we were capable of, even at that early stage when you are still a demo band. Actually, the demo-MCD is often confused with a MCD for that reason. The response was even better (even as the popularity of black metal was declining). After a little while we inked a deal with Skaldic Art Productions, and so it happens that our brandnew full-length album “The Wing & the Burden” has officially been released since 02-07-2001.

2. Furthermore I am curious about why it took so long to come to a record deal?... please... Seriously now (don’t answer to the first part!), how did you get in touch with Skaldic Art, which is a rather starting up label, and what were the determining facts that made you join their roster – as compared to other offers you may have received?

Rahab: At the end of 1999, with the help of a very dear friend, I got in touch with Vratyas Vakyas who had just released the first two albums on Skaldic Art (by Furthest Shore and Obsidian Gate). He was the first to show a strong interest in a cooperation with Ordo Draconis after the release of „In Speculis Noctis“. We had a great number of long conversations during which we discussed practical as well as ideological and philosophical topics. It was clear from the start that the right intention was there with both parties. Being an artist with a strong longing for artistic freedom himself, Vratyas created a label policy in which the artistic achievements of a band take up a central place. All label activities are done in a continous consultation with the bands, so that everything may be done as much according to the ideals of the bands as possible. Since Ordo Draconis have strong ideas about how we would like to see things, this is as an aspect that appealed to us very much. Not to create any misunderstandings: Vratyas is not some kind of label-slave who does everything „his“ bands tell him to; freedom only excists within restriction and it has a „price“: personal responsibility. Through Skaldic Art, Vratyas offers potential: opportunities that bands can either take or leave. In either case, they’ll have to take the consequences of that. In my view that’s no less than reasonable. Another interesting consequence of Vratyas‘ approach is respectful and friendly relationship between the individual bands on the label; bands show interest in what the other bands are doing and are trying to support eachother and to help eachother out. I think that’s pretty unique The most important things we demand from a label in general are total artistic freedom and decent conditions to record and release our albums (especially sufficient studio budget, and decent promotion and distribution). It is obvious that are demands for such a small band as Ordo Draconis, but Skaldic Art meets them practically all. We have entire artistic freedom, the studio budget is huge for bands of our commercial standard and distribution is partially handled by SPV… what more can a small band ask for? Well we are always able to come up with something more, haha…

3. The way I see it, the label’s signing policy up to now is very much based on the owner’s tastes, rather than leaning on sales potential, trends and stuff. Still each release stands for quality and freedom of creation. Do you see yourself pursuing your whole career in this “friendly” environment, or is there a chance you would give in to the sirens of a comfortable financial deal ensuring the band headlining tours, big merchandising, something like that?

Midhir: Indeed, it seems as if music business has become increasingly more commercial these days. As a result, you can see that some labels have been drastically putting over the helm as to switch over from black metal to death metal. Sure, I think it’s a great relief that our label owner is supporting music on the ideological basis of his tastes, and I’m afraid he’s among the few. Such an attitude as his is valuable for the music scene in general (not just for the bands), since, whether you want it or not, the listener’s taste is largely dependent on the labels, since it’s them that are largely responsible for the financial support of their bands (studio, perhaps new equipment, etc.), their promotion (including advertisements, merchandise, tours), and the availability of their albums. And if indeed bands are selected on commercial criteria, well need I say more. In the long run it may also affect musicians since for the most part they are listeners, too. Certainly, as a listener you’ve got some autonomy, but it just requires a lot of time, money and effort to maintain your musical tastes. An essential point I‘d like to draw attention to is the absolute artistic freedom which Skaldic Art grants us. Vratyas Vakyas, our label boss does not meddle with our writing music or anything, which is not so obvious as it may seem prima facie. Another strong suit is that, as the man behind Falkenbach, he is personally familiar with our concerns as a band. At the moment, the subject of other contracts is immaterial, especially since we have signed for two more albums after “The Wing & the Burden”.

4. And one happens to think of some of those “big” formations, who are offered such a studio budget they can afford almost everything. Nothing against that, but it is a bit sad to see how those persons lose control of the band’s raison d’être – even style – and become simply unable to stand fully behind their music in the end. I mean, look at Dimmu Borgir on album and then on stage… When it comes to Ordo Draconis, you guys don’t exactly play what I would call easy-listening music. However I sense a soul, an entity behind each facet of the sound. What are your requirements when you enter a studio? To what extent are you involved in all the steps of the recording, mix, etc.?

Midhir: As for your view on Dimmu Borgir and other black metal pop stars, I have the same feeling with a lot of recent pompous-like-an-airbag American films, which seem to rely for a great deal on spectacular visual effects, but are a little empty as regards content (expensive and cheap at the same time). Likewise, the flipside of the coin with a good production can be that one puts too much faith in the way it would bombard the senses. I mean, with a good production you can make a lot of things sound impressive, but if it stops right there I’d call that flatulent. Don’t understand me wrong though. I do revel in the plentiful opportunities of production. Did you know they are developing recording and playing equipment, based on the use of four speakers? Imagine what kind of ambience that would make. In some way, sound engineering could be something of an extension of your music, a kind of additional band member, who by regulating/manipulating frequencies and the like can marvellously accentuate, and even create, shapes and timbres. For interestingly manipulated drums, for example, I’d refer to Dodheimsgard “666 International”. The role of production depends very much on what you want to do with your music. So, in my opinion, Darkthrone’s “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” has a good production, but only because it so wonderfully answers the dark purpose of their music. As you say, we don’t play easy-listening music, and for such a multidimensional music to convey as we make a well-balanced and transparent production is indispensable. Interplay is a vital aspect of our music and so to distinguish between the multiple layers that are at work is essential. Furthermore, I would say that the dynamics, which are obviously already part of the composition, should be underscored in the production. Not to forget that the album should rock big time (I like this cheesy expression). We opted for Excess Studios (Sinister, Danse Macabre, Houwitser) mostly because of our earlier, rather satisfactory cooperation on “In Speculis Noctis”. Yes, we were very much involved in the recording/mixing/mastering process, even a little more than we were on “In Speculis Noctis” actually. At the same time, the fact that our producer was now more at home with our wishes was also greatly to our advantage.

5. By the way, how does an Ordo Draconis show look like? I have heard positive echoes so far. Do you manage to reproduce every nuance of the music live?

Midhir: I don’t think it’s a matter of really emulating the album up to each and every bit. First, there are inevitable barriers of a practical kind. You really have to make impossible claims if you want to have the perfect sound, balance and all that. Even the finest cream of the crop equipment cannot meet such requirements. Second and most importantly, a stage performance is essentially different from an album, for instance as to how interaction works. Playing covers, keeping contact with your audience, being actually visible to your audience, and the sense that what you hear is played live probably all contribute to an intimate atmosphere. Unlike an album, you can respond to the public. For instance, when a few people yelled “Slayer, Slayer!”, we indeed replied by playing Slayer. Also, and I think this is the quintessence of a stage performance (and probably of pop music) as opposed to an album recording, it’s more a matter of feeling the music with its vibes and pulses instead of closely listening to it. I’d call that organic in a literal sense, as it appeals far more to the physical level of experiencing music, particularly with this high level of decibels. That’s why people are moved to bodily react to the music (excluding throwing tomatoes) in the widespread manner that we understand as dancing (does this sound too much like an old black-and-white documentary???). You may also experience music while sitting in your chair or lounging in your divan, but I won’t go into such ecological matters right now. Live we are a little rawer and more unpolished (partly out of necessity). Whether we manage to convey those vibes I’m not really in the position to answer, but it’s at least our intention and the overall response, as observed from verbal signs and wildly moving limbs in the crowd, does seem to confirm it. I also adjust my sounds to the live environment, taking into account the acoustic leeway in such a situation, with any luck like the way dance/techno DJs and artists know (intuitively) what frequencies have what effect at a high intensity of volume.

6. Of course there is this question whether your singer Moloch has to undergo a vocal cord transplant after each concert… Having in mind his feat at the end of “Turpentine Chimaera” (just to name that one), I will just refuse to believe you if you tell me that the vocals have been recorded in one day. How do people seem to react to his voice? I could easily understand if someone said it is much too extreme to fit the music, so at the end of the day how would you justify this component of Ordo Draconis?

Midhir: Honestly, Moloch doesn’t do his vocal cords as much damage as you imagine. He has taken some singing lessons, as to avail himself of his lungs and probably also to learn how not to ruin his vocal cords. Actually, he doesn’t have to exert himself very much in order to realize those rasping vocals. Paradoxically, it’s still calm and relaxed, which I think is part of the charm. I believe Moloch is able to even prolong that long cry at the end of ‘Turpentine Chimaera’ (although doing that would be pointless). The vocals were not recorded within a day, but the reasons for that didn’t have to do with the state of his vocals but with our timetable. If I remember correctly, he got a few evening leftovers or a few hours in between and that’s basically it (which was enough). I’m not that much aware of the response we received, but I think his vocals have provoked mixed feedback. Some think they’re brilliant, others find them too abrasive, and some people are more fond of those screamy Children of Bodom-alike vocals (I for one don’t), and think Moloch’s vocals are unexciting. I prefer the rasping cutting edge of his vocals, and that’s all that matters to me. The vocals may be among our raw edges, but I don’t feel like polishing everything. It’s good to hear we have a controversial issue here.

7. Back in Ablaze #37, you reveal that Moloch and guitarist / co-composer Bob were about to leave the band at some stage. How did it come to this situation? Honestly, do you think that Ordo Draconis would have withstood such a separation, be it in the short or long term? I think of the band’s obvious unity…

Rahab: The whole situation had its roots in private life – I don’t want to comment on that. Due to this, a tension arose within the band. We came to a point that it was necessary to have a good conversation and so we did. The outcome was that Bob and Moloch would leave, but not before the recording of “The Wing & the Burden” was finished. They saw that it would have been too big a loss if they wouldn’t at least complete what we had been working for all this time. From that moment on everything was clear and the tension had gone – we only focussed on recording the album as well as we could. Though the loss would have been incredible, the rest of the band respected their decision and aquiesced in it. Ordo Draconis would have continued without them. The recording of the album, the whole way towards it and the final outcome were very special for all band members and led Bob and Moloch to re-evaluate their situation and made them decide to continue with Ordo Draconis, which is the best outcome I could have wished for. In some sense the arriving departure of Bob and Moloch influenced our enthusiasm and our skills. The album would be the final chapter of a certain stage of the band. And because there was no case of personal wars going on inside the band and we had been together for four years, we were extra motivated to create something beautiful for this final chapter to which we could all look back with pride. If we had any influence on the choice of Bob and Moloch to stay, it would be that we left them their own choice, which we would respect no matter what. Haha, it’s not really like we are an hermetic order, though the line up has been stable for over 4 years. The decision to leave was very hard on them – it’s not like they were keen on quitting or anything, and even if they would have left they probably would have stayed involved as session members („You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!“). I can affirm that the whole situation has strengthened the band; it are such events that make you realise that you really have something special going on! It’s only a subject for speculation if Ordo would have been able to overcome the “loss” of two of its members – I think the order would have survived, but the band would have changed shape, more radically then we are continuously doing by evolution.

8. How long do you respectively practise your instruments? I must say I have been struck by the technical level, way above average for a black metal outfit. Keyboarder Midhir has certainly been offered a piano when he was still shitting in his diapers…

Rahab: Well, when we started out with the band, Bob was the only band member who had been playing his instrument for more than a month. Midhir and myself, we had just bought our instruments. Midhir started to play synths about a month after we had started out. I must add that we did have at least some musical experience before starting with Ordo Draconis. Midhir had been playing drums and guitar for a couple of years and I had taken lessons in playing classical guitar for some time. The drummer we had when we started playing had just started out as well, but it soon became clear that he wasn’t able to catch up with the rest of the band fast enough. That was the reason for his departure and Arco’s entering. Arco had been playing drums in some small local bands for some years.

9. Let us focus on the just-released album if you will. I haven’t heard your earlier works, but let me risk a parallel between “The Wing & the Burden” and a theatrical answer to Arcturus’ “Aspera Hiems Symfonia”. Would you agree on that statement? Generally, how do people categorise your album? Are you amused by the comparisons, the superlatives employed – thinking of how you wished the music to turn out?

Midhir: About the comparison with “The Wing & the Burden”, perhaps that’s the most accurate description I’ve ever come across. I’m not very fond of us being pigeonholed, but it’s inevitable I guess. So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but since I have only cursorily glanced at them, I’m not sure how they’ve categorized us. At the moment, if a ‘blackish’ metal band includes synthesizers as one of the instruments, whatever they do with them, they tend to get compared with bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. It’s the same rationale that makes us sound like Cannibal Corpse because of the use of two distorted guitars. Let’s hope people will really listen to the album, and also take the time for it.

10. Is “progressive” a term you would accept or deny?

Midhir: I would accept it as a compliment. I hope it’s true.

11. I am curious about the lyrics of “The Rite of Catherine de Medicis”. Even though I do picture the story itself quite well – being French – I thought them to differ from the usual way lyrics are put down. It’s sort of a prosaic narrative style, as if one was just reading a history book. How did you come up with that idea? Will you develop these history-based concepts in the future?

Midhir: Not being the lyricist behind ‘The Rite of Catherina de Medicis’ (that’s Moloch), I can’t tell too much about it, but to a certain extent I do know what it’s about of course. ‘The Rite … ’ is set in 1574, two years hence from the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. I imagine Catherina de Medicis (1519-1589) has been a most remarkable woman. The storyline for that song, which I think Moloch found either in Bodin’s “La Demonomanie, ou traite des Sorciers” (1587) or in Eliphas Levi (or both), recounts how Queen Catherine fell back on the black arts, when King Charles IX was lying sick of an unidentified terminal disease. She consulted a lapsed Jacobin cleric, who was himself conversant with the black arts, and performed a ritual by which she would invoke a hellish spirit. Nevertheless, the king kicked the bucket, and the eldest son became King of France at the early age of ten, so Catherine de Medicis could become Queen Regent . . . Definitely, the words are put down in a matter-of-fact style, clearly not implying any judgment on the persons/characters or any supposition of the truth further than we know it as such. Obviously, the style is slightly paradoxical, since what is presented as historical truth is actually based on fiction. At least that’s my impression. For all I know I could be telling sheer nonsense. Anyway, we’ve got another semi-history-based song on “The Wing & the Burden”, and that’s ‘Necropolis’, again set in France. The actual setting may not be historical, but the event in retrospect is. In 1832 Paris was unpleasantly surprised by an uninvited guest. Whilst there was a merry masquerade going on during carnival, cholera broke out and played the partypooper. We still have a literary account of that left, which is of no importance here, and a woodcut tableau, which kind of formed the basis for my story. It represents Death with a violin or a similar instrument outrivalling the mortal musicians of the parade and winning the day. As you’d expect from a song with themes from Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre”, the dead are resurrected and perform a kind of dance. They appear to be the victims of the epidemic of 1832, including the musicians, and have an argument about things. In the end, Death harangues the corpses and wins the day again, or night actually. I can’t recall whether we’ll be using particular events in history for the next album. As not everything’s written, who knows? History is alive with fascinating stuff, so it would be likely for us to again draw on history sooner or later.

12. About “Wreckage” now. This song is the longest of the album, and for me it is a 5000-pieces puzzle. I have the impression you made many different songs (or fragments of songs) collide into one, but maybe I am wrong… Will you please scrutinise the genesis of this song for me?

Midhir: Well, ‘Wreckage’ is a dark song in its own strange way and does have a complex origin, both musically and lyrically. Oddly, it seems as if the jinx that haunts the journey described in the song had also troubled the composition of both music and words. Don’t think that the daemon of inspiration is necessarily so pleasant as one imagines. The lyrics have gone through a gruelling process of expunction, rewriting, revision, and deepening. As a text which works on so many levels, it’s also a song which is more open to interpretation than any other of my lyrics for this album. Apart from the demo-song, it’s also the oldest text. Basically, it describes how a man at sea is swept away by a tempest and is shipwrecked, clashing with the cliffs of an island. Having once climbed the perilous cliffs, he discerns through the dense forest a glade and a lady making up a bed. For some reason he is beckoned over. On his way through the forest, he is at strife with himself but he ultimately arrives at the glade. The man cannot accept to rest here: “Of what green’s that sheet of moss / With which my bed she drapes? / Nothing more but the ambiguity / Which consuming decay or growth shapes, / A sheet with which to smother me, / Makes me argue the self-imposed toss.” Enchantment cannot make him stay, and so he is allowed to embark on a new voyage. “Wreckage” includes a lot of evocative, often disturbing, images, which were insistently and feverishly preying on my mind. Perhaps that’s the part of the jinx I was talking about. I had to let my unconscious speak, as usual, but I could never attain what I was aspiring to, whatever that was. You can hear in the song that a dynamic force is at work, but the motivation and direction are uncertain. Unlike you imagine, it’s not built of other songs or fragments. Perhaps the song is literally a wreckage, all pieces of the puzzle having a common history. In the same way, the grammar is intentionally broken at places.

13. And by extension could you explain how it works when Bob, Midhir and you come up with your parts at the rehearsal place? How long does it take to finalise the instrumental frame of a song? Is it a peaceful process, or does it sometimes lead to conflicts between individuals?

Midhir: Oh we have fights all the time. Music is serious business, and, as in every serious business, people get hurt. Seriously now, I’m glad we don’t have a systematic approach to such things, which is impossible with three creative mavericks anyway. Generally, we come up with a few ideas to fit within a certain frame of reference, and work them out. Also, that frame could take form during a brainstorming of some wild suggestions. It hasn’t come to great conflicts up till now, and we’re wise enough to know that bolshie behaviour only obstructs the course of things. Of course it’s a thing of giving and taking, but if we encounter a disagreement while discussing things (which keeps things lively), we always search for the best way possible to put things right.

14. You included “A Crimson Dawn”, a song that originally appeared on your demo “When the Cycle ends”. In a way I could have guessed that this song was an older one, as – to my modest ears - the mood-driving balance within this song is like 66,6% keyboard and 33,3% guitars, whereas it is 50-50 the rest of the time. What was your purpose for putting this song on this album, at this place in the middle of the track-list? What are the modifications you brought to the early version? I could bet you have improved – if not added – the solos.

Midhir: Strange. My contribution to that song is not that significant as compared to the rest of the album. Anyway, being the very first song for “When the Cycle Ends”, it’s more traditional, a bit like early Ulver, and some thrash metal (roughly). Why we recorded it again, is because (especially) this song deserved a new recording and a bit of a new approach. As we have it now, the sound has been much improved, as well as the level of musicianship. At the time, using real acoustic guitars wasn’t practicable, as we had to record all songs in one take. Luckily, we could use them as we wished this time. Furthermore, we dropped the female vocals and replaced them by tin whistle and low whistle, which are played by a multi-instrumentalist folk musician. Bob improvised this dual with the low whistle in the studio, as it was there that he first heard the part. I’m not sure but I think Bob improvised the rest of the solos as well, like he did on the original recording. We also reduced an episode, which got a bit too long. Being an older song, ‘A Crimson Dawn’ is a kind of relief, which would for that reason have its most favourable position somewhere about the middle of the tracklist.

15. The two last songs “Tiphareth – the Burning Balance” and “Necropolis” bear classical music stigma in their textures – not only because of the Saint-Saëns-adapted part in “Necropolis”. Why do I smell a baroque scent somehow? Do you curse me if I say that “happy” parts lie hidden within those songs?

Midhir: Actually, classical textures are pervasive throughout the album, except for ‘A Crimson Dawn’. About, “Tiphareth – the Burning Balance”, it’s more anything like a smirk or the veneer of a smile that I hear other than what you call ‘happy’, in particular the main riff and the central episode in canon. For “Necropolis” I deliberately tried to blur the distinction between the tragic and the comic, so you’re probably fooled if you think it’s happy (and so you are if you think it’s sad). Seeing as I have given a few rough outlines of ‘Necropolis’ above, you may understand this a little better. There are quite a few puns and tongue-in-cheek jibes that may have a tragic undertone. The concluding invective by Death is as follows: “Agile fools, do no trim – as ye define - / My fearsome form of old / With frothy flattery; / Timeless air I breathe as to engulf / Such outcries brief and bold. / Casualties, as ere long the loyal dawn / Shall Nature from Her apogee / To her source restore. / True to form, the honours of last word, / Last laugh and dance are mine / To be.”

16. Over the whole album the lyrics, whatever they deal with, are of an upper-class standing. Those written by Midhir proved however frustrating as I had to look up for every second word in the dictionary… I have difficulties figuring out how and when such intricate lyrics can come into play within the song-writing process. Could you help me out on that?

Midhir: And I was thinking they were easier this time. I’m sorry for difficult words here and there, but I select my words and phrases on the strength of two criteria: their exact meaning and connotation, and their sound/colour. It’s not like I’m trying to impress people with my vocabulary. Fathoming the lyrics does require something of the reader, I’ll give you that, but in the end it is more rewarding than your average ‘Hail Satan’ or ‘the vampire’s gonna bite you’ lyrics. I have given you some details of the backgrounds of my lyrics in this interview, so that could be of any help to you (and to the readers). I don’t have a fixed methodical approach when writing lyrics and combining them with music. It starts with an idea or ideas which should stir my imagination (though never to the extent that I’d be writing fantasy lyrics), often images which steadily assume feverish shapes and are ultimately worked up into lyrics. Basically, the music should be written before I can compose verse along with it. Although the general idea is there prior to the composition of both music and lyrics, you need to know your metric leeway in the framework of the song first.

17. I have a mate who belongs to an ornithology club. They are about to sue Ordo Draconis at law for bird slaughter! Who is the mind behind the magnificent artwork of “The Wing & the Burden”? What does it actually symbolise in connection with the album’s concept? (if there’s a concept whatsoever…)

Midhir: Thanks for your appreciation. It’s mastermind Arco who is our graphic wizard and devoted bird-watcher here! We first discussed what would work as a model for the album’s concept, toyed with a few ideas, and eventually we came up with this. It does reflect the mechanism of the wing and the burden. Don’t think of merely linear forces which cause a movement up or down. The interference is highly important, because, for instance, a heavier burden can make the wing stronger, or the wing may even constitute the burden, or the other way around (we even had a discussion whether to use ‘and’ or ‘&’, but because of the mechanism it seemed wise to use the one as it is now). The general idea here particularly derives its fascination from the way it is explored in the lyrics and music. Back to the album cover. The blazing globe is of course the sun, but it need not be identified as such. In a way, it’s slightly anti-black metal to depict the sun. Perhaps we should deliver sun glasses along with the album. Anyway, it might bring you to associate it with the Fall of Icarus, or maybe with the myth of Prometheus, as fire is an element both creative and destructive. But even without such allusions, you can figure out the thematic relevance yourself now.

18. Please let me congratulate you for your very stylish corpsepaints. You know that most Scandinavian precursors are giving the whole thing up these days, while most Central and Southern-European bands continue the tradition. Personally I think there are no grounds for raising a debate about what appearance a black metal band should have, but as it seems all the same important to many people, would you please give us your point on the matter? Does make-up help your self-confidence on stage for instance?

Midhir: Yes, another controversial issue! Thanks for your appreciation. I suppose you are referring to the pictures in the CD booklet. I favour them myself. The effect is almost cartoonesque, not in a burlesque way (another time), but rather strangely distorted in colour and surreal, hovering somewhere midway between reality and fiction, especially with the outlined shreds dangling in the forefront. Some film covers, and a taste of the Batman TV cartoon, are the closest indications I can think of right now. It’s as if we’re trying to escape the two-dimensional confines of the booklet. There is one thing though, which is, my neck looks like a second chin, but I’m not going to ask you what you think about our ‘gorgeous’ hairdo, don’t worry. By the way, it’s Arco again who deserves all the credit for these stylish graphic metamorphoses. However, I’d like to say now we’ve renounced corpse paint these days. I understand you’d be deceived by the CD inlay and promotion pictures, but future shots of us and stage performances will be without corpse paint. Now and again I’m a little surprised about the importance which people attach to corpsepaint, and I realize such a step as we have made could disillusion a few people, but we’re band of artistic integrity. Obviously, we’re not making music with the purpose of winning respect and honour, or money. That’s what people did in the Middle Ages. However, we do owe you an explanation. In my opinion, the whole thing was getting old very fast. It’s a bit odd to see us progressing while still abiding by the olde cosmetics, a mode of expression which has been repeated ad nauseam, and only faintly modified by us. I’m glad that the pictures discussed above are different for that matter. We’ve been considering to do something else instead, something that would be more closely related to Ordo Draconis, but nothing has been decided so far.

19. You have a very tight relationship with the German band Enid, don’t you? I heard members of Ordo Draconis had even offered their skills when Enid were looking for musicians… How do you feel about them having a stable line-up now? Do you fancy their kind of fantasy-folk-metal?

Rahab: I’m not really sure if it is right to say that we or I have a very strong relationship with Enid as a band, but one of Enid’s band members, Florian, is a very dear friend of mine. It really is beyond words to describe what he has meant for Ordo Draconis as a band so far and what he means to me personally as a friend. Apart from that, I think that Enid is a very good band that has something to add to the metal scene. I think their music is unique and that composer/keyboard-player/vocalist Martin is a very (multi-)gifted musician. Somebody that I would enjoy working with! It was me who offered his modest skills in favour of Martin’s compositions some years ago – Flortian had told me that Martin would like to play live once and we were thinking about ways to realise that. I’m not sure that I would have been able to add the right aspects to Enid’s music, but I would have loved to give it a try! However, the fact that we live far apart in different countries didn’t make it very practical to join Enid and it would have been impossible to rehearse on a regular basis. I listen to their “Abschiedsreigen” album quite often – as a matter of fact I am hearing it this very moment, so yes, I obviously like their music. I know they have a complete line-up nowadays – I have even heard some first recording that sounded promising alright and I am very curious what the future will bring for them – from the rumours I have heard, Enid is headed for a bright and ambitious future and I do not wish them anything less!!

20. I also think of your label-mates Obsidian Gate, Rivendell, Vindsval or of Draconis Sanguis, Dornenreich and so on… Would you speak of a new generation of young talented musicians rising at the core of Europe, who are about to make a wind of freshness and unbound creativity blow over the scene? With all due respect for the oldies, do you think it is about time people stop looking back on the classics and always searching traces of Bathory or Darkthrone in the music of today?

Midhir: I’m not so up to date actually, so I wouldn’t know what is happening at the moment. Most stuff that I’ve heard recently, wherever it hails from, does not appeal very much to me. In my more active years as a listener, I noticed Austria was producing quite a few interesting bands, like Korova (now called Korovakill), Abigor, and Summoning, but I can’t tell much more. I do recall now there’s this Italian duo called Ephel Duath, which I’m very keen on. About the second part of our question, metal has often been pretty conservative. I’ve found that part of me is still conservative, still enjoying traces of Darkthrone. The sad thing is that most copycats are not able to capture an atmosphere like Darkthrone did. Perhaps it’s just that there’s a latent potential that I hope will be more fully exploited in the future. Still, (black) metal often wearies me for being so terribly ordinary and unimaginative. If what you refer to, is indeed true, then that’s a good thing.

21. Will Skaldic Art be able to organise a tour soon? I dream every night (I do!) of a showbill with Obsidian Gate, Ordo Draconis, Falkenbach and a few others… Don’t you think that would rule?

Midhir: I can be very short on this, because nothing is certain yet. There were some tentative plans, but I can’t tell beyond that. Perhaps we should arrange a few shows in dreamland, with high-quality equipment to vivify your sense-experience in dreams. I’m not sure about the possibilities, but in that fashion we might do a brilliantly surreal and grotesque performance.

22. However hard I search, when it comes to a Dutch scene, I can’t see farther than female-vocals-oriented bands like The Gathering, After Forever, Orphanage, Within Temptation, or a few death metal pioneers (Thanatos, Threnody…). Do you have relations to those bands? Do you hope to become the “ambassadors” of the Dutch black metal scene, which has been rather discreet until now?

Midhir: You are right that we are among the few black metal bands in a haystack of death metal and doom/death bands here in The Netherlands. We have a lot a good-quality death metal bands around here these days. I’m not so sure about relations with other bands. Some of the other guys are much more involved in the ‘scene’ than I am. Of course, it would be good to be considered the best black metal band from the Netherlands, but I don’t feel any responsibility to the scene, as such a term as ‘ambassador’ would imply.

23. About you Rahab, for how long has it been you goal to play extreme metal in a band? Could you name one (or more) album(s) that gave you the push to grab a guitar and start playing? From now on, could you imagine carrying on an “everyday life” without music?

Rahab: The first ideas for starting a band arose when I was fourteen, but it took a number of years before thing finally started roling. It was already back then that Bob, Moloch and myself wanted to form a band – so it shows once more that patience is a good thing! I don’t think there was a particular album that was the major incentive for me to start playing guitar, but like I mentioned before, I started out playing classical guitar. I already listened to metal back than and I did want to play electric guitar sooner or later but as incedible as it may sound, I wanted to have the right musical fundaments and technical skills before starting to play metal. I thought that taking some classical guitar education was the right way for establishing that. Looking at it now, my assumption back then weren’t very right. It requires different skills and techniques to play electric guitar compared to acoustic guitar, but I am not saying that it was utterly useless or anything, not at all. And apart from that, playing acoustic guitar did broaden my musical horizon – I love the instrument despite the fact that I am not particularly good at playing it. And to tell you a small secret, if I were to chose between electric guitar and acoustic guitar I would chose the latter because of its acoustic honesty, purity and innocence. With an electric guitar you can cover up fuck ups while recording, in principle that’s impossible with an acoustic guitar or acoustic guitar. Fortunately I do not have to chose! I do believe that starting by taking some classical guitar influenced my approach in playing and composing – I am very fond of incorporating influences from classical (guitar) music and using typical chord structures for Ordo Draconis’ music. Another band, one that I am very, very fond of, where this shines through more pominently is Obtained Enslavement on their “Witchcraft” and “Soulblight” albums. A life without music is beyond my imagination – I am always occupied with music in one way or another. Even if there are no instruments or stereo equipment present, I just try and do some composing in my mind. Music is so much more effective and efficient in expressing than words in my view and on the other hand it leaves more space for personal interpretation – I sometimes think that the way to know me best is through “my” music.

24. All right, I guess I have stolen enough of your time now. I can’t think of a better conclusion than you quoting a few lyrics of “The Wing & the Burden” that mean a lot to you. Then don’t forget to leave your contact and web address, and basically anything else you’d like to add…

OK, thanks for the interview and good luck with your magazine. I’m afraid this interview has turned out to be a little long-winded, even by my standards. Then again, you may consider this as an important in-depth interview in the history of Ordo Draconis [ahum]. We’ll put this on our website, if you don’t mind. I find it difficult to give quotes in isolation, because they usually make more sense in their context. Anyhow, the following lines are from ‘Necropolis’:

“Unruly Law,
I may loathe how with contenders Thou viest,
When masked ’mongst a masquerade all the more
All having en masse enticed.
“Yet I owed to Thee, which Thou didst confine,
Ambition not unspoken for,
But Thou canst not ever Thyself undermine,
Hence mute is Thy music: Encore!”



Negura Magazine
Rahab interviewed by Negru of Negura Magazine

01. Salut! How are things going on for you there?

Rahab: Greetings Negru; it’s an honour to be given the opportunity of being featured in your magazine. I hope you’ll excuse me for starting off with this trivial ass-kissing, but fact is that I’m pleased with our presence on these pages – “ideology” and “professionalism” often appear to be mutually exclusive. Only few zines succeed in working their way around this Heissenberg equation, but I consider Negura one that found the formula. For me personally, life has known more joyful days. I feel like in a constant sleeping paralysis right now – every effort to create movement and change remains unrewarded. The worldly body seems unresponsive to the powers of my ego, at least for the time being – so patience is being challenged. I will bother neither you nor your readers with the insignificant details of my personal life (though insignificance is a relative concept in this matter, obviously) and I’m sure I’ll be aroused and released from this bodily captivity again. As for Ordo Draconis, for the time being it is the exception to the aforementioned. Though quite a number of hurdles remain to be taken still, we’re gradually progressing towards the recording of our 2nd album. In that respect, the current situation is quite satisfying. Creativity is finding it’s way to the songs and crystallizes down wonderfully. The process of ripening of the songs however is one that requires time, so I think we’ll record the album somewhere in the middle of ’03. The ambitions we have and the way we translated them into goals and ideas makes me very enthusiastic, though it will be hard to realize all we would like.

02. Could you start by presenting us a bit Ordo Draconis? Not just the usual bio, but maybe why you started the band, how did your achievements influence you… more like the experiences beyond the facts…

Rahab: To start a band was a dream that was born long before Ordo Draconis was actually founded. I think it goes back to ’91 already – Midhir, Bob, Moloch and me have known each other for quite some time. Unfortunately music and playing an instrument is not stimulated here to the extent it is done in Scandinavia and it proved to take 5 more years to actually start a band. The initial motives to start Ordo Draconis? During the early 90’s we discovered the underground scene of doom, death and in particular black metal. The music and the entire mystifying ambience of the scene back then made such an impression on us that we wanted to become a part of it, to contribute to it, to add something special, something good, something personal to it. The years prior to Ordo Draconis’ birth most of us already discovered we got great satisfaction and fulfillment from expressing ourselves through music. Midhir, Bob and myself already played together a number of times. In May ’96 I finally confronted Moloch; that if we were ever going to start a band, it was then. Hence we started looking for other band members who were easily found among our friends. In September ’97 we started off for real, playing cover tracks. The line-up back then consisted of: Moloch (bass/vocals), Bob (guitar), Arco (drums), Midhir (synths) and me, Rahab (guitar). Most of us were new to their instrument at the time, so we started playing cover tracks, to tighten up as a band and to become more skilled at playing. It turned out that Timo, the drummer we started out with, could not keep up with the speed of progress and our ways parted in early ’97. He was instantly replaced by Arco and we started out with composing our own songs. Compared to our current speed of songwriting we were very productive at the time, hahaha. The first 3 songs, that later appeared on the “When the Cycle ends” demo were completed in 2 months. It is funny looking back at those days – we were so highly motivated to create ourselves a name and reputation within the international underground scene and we compensated our lack of skills with a boundless enthusiasm to reach beyond. From the beginning we decided that we would never do things in a crappy way though – we would either make the best effort we could or not make the effort at all. And clearly our approach worked: we received a very good response to our concerts and with 1234 copies spread, I believe, despite the fact it is actually a polished rehearsal, “When the Cycle Ends” is one of the more “successful” Dutch black metal demos. We received some serious interest from record labels in response to the demo, but we decided that we wanted to gain more experience before recording an album for a label. For this reason we recorded the self financed demoMCD “In Speculis Noctis” early 1999. I still believe it’s one of the most professional efforts to be released by an underground band; the album was recorded in the Excess studios, where bands like After Forever and Sinister also recorded their albums. Everything was done “pro” and we were paid in kind: the investment we had made was huge, but we reached break-even in no time, selling 800 copies within 6 weeks. I guess it will not be too difficult to imagine how satisfied we were with our accomplishment. “In Speculis Noctis” received a lot of attention in the international metal press, with excellent reviews and interviews in major magazines like Legacy (GER), Legion (RUS) and Rock Brigade (BR), which is almost unheard for a small underground band like we were. Through a dear friend of mine, we also got in touch with Vrayas Vakyas of Falkenbach, and label owner of Skaldic Art Productions. He had just released the first two albums on his label and showed his sincere interest in a cooperation. In the course of several conversations we established a very good and friendly understanding, resulting in the recruitment of Ordo Draconis for the banner of Skaldic Art. In September 2000 we recorded our debut CD “The Wing & the Burden”, which was released in the course of the next year. I think “The Wing..” was a huge step ahead compared to “In Speculis Noctis”, even tough the progress might seem less striking compared to the progress between the two demos. I do not recount how often I have listened to the album, filled with a great sense of pride. Despite the many aspects we would do differently now, the album did turn out like the adventurous musical trip I had intended it to become, with new elements to be discovered with each hearing. Because of the large amount of details and subtleties in the compositions we had chosen for transparent productions from which the composition profited a lot in my conviction. It was with this release that I first felt I could take myself seriously as a musician, who was able to contribute something decent and substantial to a recording. I do not have a very high estimation of my own playing skills and I had always felt I had more a role as a composer than as a musician, but at least my conception of the balance shifted somewhat with this recording. After the release a rather turbulent period in the life of Ordo Draconis began; Midhir went away to Ireland for 9 months and during this period Moloch and Arco decided to leave the band. It is obvious that this intense phlebotomy had a huge impact on the band and made the remaining members evaluate what to do. We decided to head on and found two new members to team up with permanently: Berry on bass and Tyrann on vocals. Where Berry was quite new to the scene, at least as a musician, Tyrann had already earned his medals as the vocalist of our Luxembourgish label mates Vindsval. Till date we have not found a suitable replacement on drums, so we’re using computer right now. It’s not 100% sure yet if we’ll record the next album with a flesh and bone drummer or with his digital equivalent.

03. I saw you don’t enjoy talking too much about your personal lives apart Ordo Draconis. But maybe you could explain what the band means for you? How did it influence you as a person? I guess you started the usual way, with the intentions to put into music & band something from inside of you. But have you reached the opposite point, when music & band make you different, draw you into something new?

Rahab: It’s almost impossible to try and start explaining what Ordo Draconis means to me; you might just as well ask what I mean to myself, because Ordo Draconis is part of me. The easiest way to view it is like a musical diary I guess – it represents who I am. My contribution to our songs marks specific elements of my life. This contribution can be found on various levels, like song-concepts, song structures, actual riffs and melodies up to tiny details like specific sounds or samples. It can be derived from a general interests in certain issues and themes, a sense of admiration for artistic expressions by others, up to the impact of very specific events in my personal life. Especially in the case of the latter, not even my fellow band members are aware of the exact ideas behind a piece or idea. The interesting thing is that the same holds for the other contributing members, so the songs become a kind of synergetic blend of our personalities. However, contrary to a diary, where thoughts and emotions are expressed through words, our songs remain subject to interpretation to a much larger extent, also to us though we are involved in the composing. Many aspects put in by the other members will never be completely fathomed by me, at least its origin won’t. Yet, I am able to open myself up to their ideas and to the songs in total and interpret them both in a rational and in an irrational way. I think that, with respect to the influence Ordo Draconis has had on me I could make the distinction between my view on the scene and our contribution to it, my taste in music, my skills as a composer and a musician, and finally my personality. I’ll start with the first – playing in Ordo Draconis has confronted me with a number of aspects of the underground scene and the music industry that were new to me. Apart from that, the underground scene is a dynamic entity itself of course and a lot has changed since the early nineties. I think the (black metal) underground has become more dispersed – the coherence and support of the early nineties has vanished, which is an obvious development for an expanding entity. Maybe you could say the scene had reached its critical mass. Apart from that, the black metal scene has been commercialized – on the one hand I do not have a problem with that, because many bands that are selling well these days have played a pioneer’s role in the scene or have accomplished something worthwhile before growing bigger. On the other hand, with black metal being hyped it has become clearer and clearer that sales are for sale – integrity and idealism have vanished in the policy of many labels and magazines. The key question is: “How can we draw money from this?” In order to make money they must have a product that appeals to the potential buyers, so the appearance should be good. In itself that’s a good thing, but unfortunately, the quality often stops with the appearance resulting in: glossy magazines with a poor content and pages filled with expensive advertisements, and reviews and interviews that have been bought or have been included as a return favour for buying an advertisement. I think not many metal fans, that claim to be rebellious and individualistic in nature, are hardly aware of the extent to which the humbly swallow what is put on their plate by record labels and magazines. I think it’s a current development that can be seen among record labels – competition has increased – the smaller ones are going bankrupt, except for a few specialized ones with a more loyal fan base. My view on the scene has grown more skeptic because of what I have seen while playing in Ordo Draconis. Due to the expansion and the commercialisation the mysticism of the black metal scene as a whole has vanished, many bands are more worried about their image than about their musical accomplishments and the scene has become a breeding pit for childish quarrels. For these reasons my affinity with the black metal scene as a whole has decreased. This does not withstand, it still is the scene I feel closest related to and there enough excellent bands and interesting people around if one knows where to look. As for my taste in music – it has expanded more into other musical genres. To me, music is all about the expression of specific atmospheres and emotions. All means that enhance the transmission of the emotion or atmosphere are intrinsically justified in my view. In that sense there are no principal style barriers. My view on composing music is like my philosophy of life, eclectic in nature. While composing music for Ordo Draconis it became evident that influences from musical styles other than (black) metal were most appropriate in some cases. This sense of musical freedom is crucial for our way of working – we will not use “strange influences” just for the sake of experimenting, yet only in a functional way. I have become more open-minded to music, because of a growing interest in how other band and projects approach the expression and transmission certain feelings. Due to this I’m able to appreciate (functional) experimentalism more these days, and I guess I’m more “trained” to listen to more diverse and complex music. I needs little discussion that our skills as musicians and composers have grown throughout Ordo Draconis’ existence. When comparing the compositions on our first demo to what were doing now… there are worlds in between. I do not mean to say that the songs on “When the Cycle ends” are bad songs. They just represent another stage in our development and terms like good and bad are meaningless in that context. I know quite some people who prefer our first demo over our debut full length – fortunately I also know people with preferences the other way around. One thing is sure though, composing songs like we did back then was a lot less time intensive, hahaha. It was more like, making a number of ideas fit together within a certain frame back then. Nowadays the compositions are much more subtle, the connection to the concept and the lyrics worked out more intensively and much more attention is given to the arrangements. Composing consists of a lot more talking now. Our increased musical skills provide us more freedom for expressing what we want. Finally, Ordo Draconis has influenced my personality, because on a personal level I draw a reflection from the music I compose. It is like writing in a diary again – writing down the words is capturing the thoughts and emotions, which works confronting in a way. While writing, the ideas are being processed and put into a perspective frame. I think the composing of music works on a more abstract level and deals more with pure emotion and feeling then with its rationalization, but the basic principle is the same. In that sense Ordo Draconis’ music in general, and my contribution in specific has worked like a kind of mirror to me.

04. It seems there have been a lot of changes on the band lately. Could you tell us what happened? Have the things cool down now?

Rahab: Well I mentioned the changes in the line-up already in your second question. It was April of this year that Arco and Moloch parted ways with Ordo Draconis. We parted in a good understanding by the way, we even played a farewell gig for them. Especially Moloch could no longer relate to the musical directions in which we were heading. Arco’s reasons for parting have remained more obscure – he told he lacked motivation to do a good job. I think he had difficulty coping with the complexity of the songs and the new songs demanded some rather difficult drum work, which was giving him a hard time. Apart from that, circumstances had been rather demotivating on him; Arco had been giving his very best in supporting the band and beyond througb sales and lay-out activities and was frustrated in his work through outside forces. This summer Moloch and Arco teamed up again to form a new band, in which Bob also participates, by the name of Weltbrant. They play a rawer more typical kind of death/black metal if I should believe the sounds, with influences from the early black metal bands and a bit or rock roll feel to it alike Carpathian Forest. Of course with their departure, Moloch and Arco left a huge vacancy in more than one sense; we had basically started out together and we had been playing together for over 5 years going through the entire development of the band together. Of course such an event is not taken lightly. It was a hard decision for them to make, but I agree that it probably had become inevitable. The time directly afterwards was very hard, Midhir being in Ireland and Berry still being a session member. Midhir and Bob and myself had some intensive e-mail communication in which we decided to continue and ask Berry to team up as a permanent member. The guys from Vindsval had become friends of hours after playing some gigs together and doing some heavy partying. After he had heard the sad news, Tyrann from Vindsval offered us his services. His enthusiasm was so boundless, and his qualities as a front man and vocalist are of such a high standard that we decided to ask him in despite the large distance he lives away (about 500 kilometers). Apart from his motivation and musical and qualities as well as qualities as a front man – for we were very well aware that a front man like Moloch would not be easily replaced – Tyrann has a splendid character that fits right in with the other band members, so we get along just fine. Next to that Tyrann’s view on music are more in league with Ordo’s remaining members than Moloch’s. We played him some new songs when he visited us recently, and he was highly impressed… so no problems in that field. The position of drummer is still vacant, and considering the rhythmic experiments we have incorporated into the new songs, it will be difficult to start working with a real life drummer again. We are programming the drums for the time being – maybe we’ll record them for the next album in this manner as well. In studio drums are digitally corrected and sampled anyway. One thing is certain though, our new drummer will have to be an open-minded person and he shouldn’t be scared of some bits and bytes, hahaha.

05. Are you now also ready to do some live gigs? Have you played live a lot in the past? How do you experience a live performance?

Rahab: At the moment we aren’t prepared to get on stage again. Because we are fully focussing on preparing for the recording of our second album right now, arranging things for playing live does not get much attention. The drums of the “old” songs still need to be programmed. I have to admit I’d like to do some gigs again – it has been such a long time by now and though I am not really the stage maniac within the band, I enjoyed the last number of gigs we did quite a lot. In the past we did quiet a few gigs, I think a little over 40 or so, including some in Belgium and Germany. To me concerts are events that are to be taken individually, with a chaotic character in the sense that it is practically impossible to predict how they will develop in their course. If the bridge between us, the band, and the audience can be crossed it can be a magnificent and intense event – if not it can be dreadful. Though some audience is pleasant, the amount of people present is not decisive for making the gig “a success”, nor is the sound quality or even how well we played the songs. It simply seems the magical potential is there or it isn’t… though it will always requite hard labour “to make it happen”. I think the way I experience a live performance is reflected in the way I am on stage: introverted yet intensely experiencing, which is indicative for me as a person I guess.

06. You are label mates with Obsidian Gate’s. What do you think about their music? I think they’re quite close to your own style, yet while you’re a bit more open in your musical approach, Obsidian Gates are more close to what’s Black Metal.

Rahab: I am afraid I have some news in this matter, for Obsidian Gate or no longer on Skaldic Art. They have recently recorded three new songs for a MCD, which has been released in a limited edition of 300 copies by the guys themselves. It’s a truly awesome piece; their best so far without doubt! As for the musical resemblance, what can I say; of course there is some resemblance: in both bands the keyboards take up a prominent role. On the other hand, Obsidian Gate’s music is much faster and like you say, it’s closer to “conventional” black metal – if I can use this term in relation to their music. Their new stuff is a little more progressive by the way – probably the reason why I like it better, together with the very good production. I like their music, but I do not really think it is that close to ours – guitars are more important in our compositions and our influences and songs are more diverse.

07. I also noticed you’re truly open-minded when it comes to your music. As open-minded is not the best way to describe Black Metal, I’m curious on what you consider Black Metal to be, and on how you see the relation between your music and Black Metal.

Rahab: Hmmmm it kind of surprises me that you already noticed that we are that open-minded when it concerns our music on “The Wing & the Burden”. What can I say… wait till you hear our second full length “Camera Obscura”, hahaha – I think it will turn out much more progressive; even a bit avant-garde probably. Well as for the whole “labeling-business”, I am not too much into this pigeonholing. Some time ago I read the term “post black metal”, which appealed to me a lot… And by the way – you don’t think black metal is open minded? I think it is one of the wonderful things about black metal: that it is hardly defined by its music, so in that sense yes, I do believe it is open minded at least when you compare it to death or doom metal for instance. It ranges from Dimmu Borgir to Abruptum, from Mysticum to Obtained Enslavement, from Beherit to Emperor to mention just a few dimensions. Are you able to define black metal in musical terms? I’m sure I could find a counter-example to almost any definition. Because it is so hard to define black metal and opinions differ, I can hardly comment on how our music is related to black metal, I just know how I experience it. Anyway, I already had so many (senseless) discussions on what black metal is or should be and how I should or shouldn’t label my own music… or even funnier people telling how we should change in order to become a black metal band. Like I mentioned before, black metal is the musical genre I feel closest related to, the scene I have followed most intensively; my CD-collection mainly consists of CDs in this genre – but when composing music one of the last things on my mind is: “Is this black metal or not?” As an artist it’s completely irrelevant – we compose and play our music primarily for egocentric purposes, to give expression to specific emotions and atmospheres. Anything that helps transmitting those is intrinsically legitimate, so basically there are no fundamental superposed restrictions except for the ones intrinsic to our personalities. In that sense we are open minded indeed, and “true” in the only sense that matters, namely true to ourselves... I wonder how many “true” black metal bands can say the same thing. In the mean time, for the sake of frame of reference, let’s stick to “post black metal”.

08. What’s the experience of creating music for you? How do you know which parts fit and which don’t fit with your music? How about patterns, rhythms, repetitions… how do they work to create an Ordo Draconis track?

Rahab: The composing of music gives me a huge high – it’s a wonderful ecstatic sensation, feeling how pieces fall together, and sensing the synergy between the individual parts. Maybe it sounds a bit awkward but it’s something really intimate. Bob Midhir and myself are the ones involved in composing. We compose our pieces individually and combine them altogether. All three of us have our own way of composing the pieces… and if you know our ways of working and our styles, one could easily recognise who contributed what. Me personally, I do not use an instrument when composing most of the time – I hear the music before playing it. Sometimes I play around with a theme in my mind for ages before I play it for the first time. It works like a mixing desk with various tracks, I can hear the parts individually and mix them together. It required some practice, and it may sound a bit awkward, but anyway it’s a lot cheaper than an actual mixing desk, haha. Our music has many secrets..... even for me. It’s like my diary in a way… or maybe better, it's like our diaries combined and encrypted to a form that nobody knows or is able to reveal the complete meaning... but everyone can listen to it and experience it in his or her personal way…and some people even enjoy it, haha. There are soo many ideas surrounding the songs. I recall all the situations of when I came up with the parts I contributed... That’s how the songs became “charged” and meaningful to me. There are memories from childhood, things related to my family - they are all there put into the songs... and to a large extent not even my fellow band members know. To tell you the truth, thinking about how to construct the songs, to give them meaning often requires much more time than composing the musical themes themselves... The three of us decide together what parts we will use for the songs. The criterion is simple: we just know if we want to put a part in or not. Sometimes some negotiating skills are practiced, hehe; well sometimes a bit of explaining helps to understand how a part could serve the song or how it translates (an aspect of) the theme into music. When composing together, concessions are inevitable I believe, but we almost always succeed in finding a compromise, with which we can all enjoy the composition. For Ordo Draconis the synergy of our individual input coming together definitely outweighs the aspect of doing concessions. Like I already mentioned in my answer to the previous question, all musical means are justified when translating emotion and atmosphere into music. So in that sense we don’t have an explicit restriction in style or influence with respect to what parts we can or can’t use. As for song structures, repetitions and patterns -it’s difficult to explain that – I would need to do it on a track to track basis. Especially for the tracks on the new album, for which the concept and also the structure was worked out in some detail before composing the actual music, patterns and repetitions are closely related to the concept. For some tracks this was done on basis of a story line, for others the concept was more basic and worked out through the music. Of course I can’t give away the secret to creating an Ordo Draconis-track, hehe – before you know everyone starts producing Ordo-songs. Nah, seriously, there is no rigid formula to our songs. We start out with an idea, like “it could be interesting to try and do something with this and this and that.” If we agree, then we work out the idea, but it can take many shapes.

09. Ordo Draconis, as a name takes me more into something like Medieval orders (Templar’s especially), into occult and magic symbolism. What does it mean for you? Are you into the fascinating world of such religious and spiritual gatherings?

Rahab: Funny enough, the week you sent me the interview I had finally been doing some reading on the Knight Templars again. There is a lot of intriguing mystery surrounding them and there termination, their Gnostic views interest me much as well as subjects that are put in relation to the Knight Templars like the Skull of Sidon, the Grail, the Prieure de Sion and the Cathars As for our band name, Midhir has written the following lines to answer the returning question on its meaning: Ordo Draconis is a Latin phrase which, as anyone might imagine, translates into English as ‘The Order of the Dragon’ (although draco could also denote a serpent). We’ve allowed the band name to be sufficiently elusive and open to interpretation, not to let any description bridle our creativity, except for that very part of the concept which embodies our imaginative freedom. Various interpretations of the symbolic significance of the dragon are possible, and I’ll try to indicate a few of them. Let me first bring into play the way the dragon is included as one of the animal symbols used in alchemy. The widespread and parallel use of animal symbolism by autonomous alchemists brought Carl Jung to his theory of the collective unconscious, so perhaps in that sense the dragon would be a universal archetype deeply embedded in the human mind. Alchemy often situates the dragon at both the beginning, which marks the potentiality of darkness, and, in winged form, at the end of the moulding process (mind over matter). And so alchemical writings often present the Ouroborus dragon or serpent, which bites itself in the tail when the cycle becomes full circle. With this in mind, I would like to say that there is an interesting duality of polarities contained within the band name. Down from the Mesopotamian creation myth (presumably even earlier), the dragon often embodies the primal waters of chaos (even as the biblical primal chaos has been depersonified, we can still retrace its origins to a dragon like Tiamat). Creation entails the potential of preceding chaos, such as when Marduk slays Tiamat, and, roughly, so does revolution. Now then, the first component of the band name would be as ambivalent in Latin as it is in modern English: ordo is not only a word for order in the sense of a religious organization or a privileged class, but also order as opposed to chaos. It’s this cyclic alternation of order and chaos (perhaps we may speak of the antagonism, in the muscular sense of the biceps and triceps, between them), that’s crucial to progress and knowledge. As such, the name, both on a macrocosmic and microcosmic level, refers to how growth and progress may issue from the breaking down of order and tradition. I should hasten to add that among the potentialities I therefore include the aspect of opposition, the destructive aspect, that has been typically attributed to the dragon. I say this from an ideological point of view, but perhaps we can also find that in myth. Think of the dragon of which the teeth would grow to be the indigenous people of Thebes, or of Fafnir, of which the blood would render its vanquisher Sigurd or Siegfried nearly invincible. Similarly, but also in many other ways, the name refers to the creative process of the artist. It’s also about breaking with conventions, still using the raw material (the potential of chaos) but manipulating and transcending it like the winged dragon of alchemy. I would use the term ‘potential of chaos’ in a wide frame of reference, including among others the amorphous material that is our perception of reality, and the interior reality of our subconscious processed and channelled into our work. In heraldic signs the dragon is often the emblem of sovereignty, and likewise we assert our wilfulness and our high esteem of freedom in this destructive and creative process of writing. Come to think of it, we may see in the myths of dragonslayers the inability of man to come to grips with unsafe parts of his nature, those which he feels uncomfortable about and decides to sort out the easy way, which is slaying. As those internal parts are ‘externalized’ (can’t find the right word) in the shape of the dragon and placed at the periphery of existence, the hero prevails in myth, but would such a repression really be the solution in actual life? All in all, Ordo Draconis denotes the organic relationship between aspects like progress, knowledge, opposition, and sovereignty. Enough about that now. A sketch of the significance of a dragon should by analogy be of dragonlike proportion, ha, ha. Another way of explaining the band name may have to do with the Dutch expression: ‘ergens de draak mee steken’ (= to mock something). However, the real reason for this band name is basically because it sounds so good. Seriously, like my view on the band name would probably suggest, we haven’t really set ourselves to a clearly defined concept, although that in itself does imply this concept of unrestrained liberty to do as we think fit. We ourselves are the only limits (which are therefore not fixed). I honestly think it’s better to let the process speak for itself, as the true traveller is not intent on arriving.

10. I think Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendul describes an intriguing hypothesis on the role and function of such organizations (orders) in more recent times. What are your views on the matter?

Rahab: Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” deals with an intriguing and to many frightening concept. Let me start off my comments with a a quote from the book: “Above her head was the only stable place in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off - he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter - their first and last encounter -- with the One, the EnSoph, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?” In my view, the above excerpt combines two of the central notions within Eco's masterwork: the enigma of the absolute on one hand and human 'stupidity' on the other. It describes the Pendulum and its connection to the single unmoving virtual point, the pivot around which the universe can move. At the same time Eco refers to the human blindness for the absolute, despite (or maybe even due to) its crystal clarity. The networks of mystic orders play a somewhat peculiar role with respect to this relation between the infinite absolute and finite humanity. Like the main characters in Eco's novel, people have been searching for this great answer to the question of 'Life, the Universe and Everything'. In my view this longing manifests itself in a quest for certainty and control. This means finding as well as creating patterns, whether it be laws of nature, moral codes, or aesthetic conventions. Human life would be impossible without such this sense of structure. So patterns is what we seek and what we create at the same time. However these two mechanisms are inseparable since they are essentially the same. We create our reality by searching for it and for us the distinction between truth and artefact (mental construct) is hard or maybe even impossible to make. Eco points out the terrible consequences of this human 'fallacy': Within the novel, the search for the grand truth is set in contemporary time. Three scholarly book editors try to reconstruct the great secret of the Knight's Templars. This all starts out as a joke but soon they end up entangled in a web of myth, created by their own delusive/deluded minds. This self constructed 'truth' has an overwhelming influence on people; it affects their actions, perceptions, and reasoning ability and it starts to live a life on its own. In this way we create explanations and insights that blind us from seeing “the real truth”. Even though the main characters of Foucault's Pendulum are all gifted with great reasoning ability (or at least extensive knowledge), they nonetheless lose touch with reality. This is illustrated in the following excerpt: “...these are now people lost in a maze: some choose one path, some another; some shout for help, and there's no telling if the replies they hear are other (lost) voices or the echo of their own...” As for the mystic orders, they are presented as mystifiers of truth. They are the 'fallible', or actually even the “demonic” creators and catalysts of this delusive 'truth' that permeates our reality. Not a very positive conception you would think. However, the mystic orders play a far more important and in a way more reverend role. For still, in the eyes of “ordinary” man, they are the keepers of absolute truth; a truth for some reason not accessible to us. Perhaps because the power unleashed by this absolute knowledge would be beyond our might to control it? Not according to Eco. The key development in his novel is the revelation of the secret, where it turns out to be entirely empty. The ultimate mystery is the secret, which hides nothing but only pretends to do so. In my interpretation of the book, it is exactly the nothingness behind this mystery, which ìs the pivot of the pendulum: the absolute turning point of the universe. When there would be something 'real' to hide, it would not be constant; for then the secret would be revealed and its contents would be subjected to the corruption of material existence. So in fact, there is a twofold movement within the functionality of the mystic order. On one hand they are the creators of the veil; hiders of truth, but on the other hand they are the unaware keepers of this one virtual point, symbolised by the virtual extension of the pendulum's anchor point. The pendulum itself stands out as a symbol of pure and sensible clarity. While the 'believers' seek the secret truths of the universe believed to be known only to the privileged cognoscenti/templars/masons the pendulum simply hangs in place demonstrating the earth's rotation to anyone who cares to look and think without prejudice. As the pendulum is a material necessity to indicate the absoluteness of its own virtual pivot. So the mystic orders, or more in general the human creation of mystified truth is necessary to be able to experience the clarity of the infinite: “I have understood. And the certainty that there is nothing to understand should be my peace, my triumph.” This is the only constant truth and it is not hidden but searching for it in the wrong way makes one blind. Let me close off with a quote from the philosopher Kierkegaard in this respect: 'The truth is a trap: you can not get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.'.. though one by Nietzsche might be equally appropriate.

11. Symbolism is something you often associate with your creation… How would you describe the function of the symbol? Are you familiar with C. G. Jung theory on the matter?

Rahab: I guess Midhir already somewhat anticipated on this question in his answer to the question on our band name. Let me start by answering the last question. I am somewhat familiar with Jung’s theories on the collective unconscious and his “archetypes” (“symbols” or “unconscious images of the human instincts”), yet everything but an expert. What I have read on his theories seems interesting, though I think that in his enthusiasm for proving his point, his examples are sometimes a little far-fetched and I have the impression that he pushes his ideas beyond the field on which they are applicable. I must admit, I had and to some extent still have difficulty accepting the idea of an inherited imprint on the human psyche. I don’t have a problem with the idea, that fundamental drives (i.e. instincts) and resulting elemental behaviour patterns are genetically determined and have been passed on for many generations. Next to that, it seems likely that there is an inherited component in the human capacity to learn in a structural sense, so that all humans approach a particular “new experience” in a same way. What I am not convinced of, or rather stronger, what I refuse to believe at this point, is that archetypes (e.g. “the self”, “the mother”, “the hero”, “the demon”) are “charged” at the moment we are born. Charged in the sense that an archetype would carry any meaning. The seed might be present in the sense that instincts are present as well structures to learn, to conceptualize and to add meaning to specific concepts. Scientifically it is very difficult to determine to what extent archetypes are really inherited rather than generated (or charged) by socially and culturally determined processes. And it would probably require unethical experiments (like for instance letting a child grow up in absence of any mother figure, his or anyone else’s). Of course it is striking that certain symbols and structures turn up in many (separated) cultures. Then again, many concepts are so “likely” to be present in different societies, since they are inherent to human life and advanced social structures that it seems obvious these concepts become part of many or all cultures. Inheritance could still be the case then, but of socio-cultural nature rather than of a genetic one (or whatever way aspects of the psyche is passed on). This socio-cultural nature does not withspeak that these concepts and their symbols and images are unconscious; in this matter it is ironic to notice to what extent Christian concepts and morals detemine the way “satanists” think and behave. The Christian roots in society are so strong and deep that we often even aren’t aware they are there. Anyway, socio-cultural values and concepts, both conscious and unconscious are not present at birth, but learnt either consciously or unconsciously and this contradicts Jung’s views, who says the archetypes are “already” present in the human psyche. What I have read could not convince me of his view on this aspect. Symbols are meant to express or to refer to a concept, an aspect or an element of reality in a condensed and often metaphoric way. As for the function of symbols, I think that two relevant aspects can be distinguished. On the one hand there is the “general familiarity” with the concept of the symbol; symbols for which this aspect is most important are the more “functional”symbols, like the red cross on an ambulance, the aesculape on a doctor’s car. On the other hand there is the “personal charge” given to a symbol; symbols for which this is the most relevant aspect are the more “personal”symbols, like a self designed tribal tattoo for instance. Often a division this clear can not be made, like with the pentagram I wear for instance; of course it is known for being a “satanic symbol”. To me however is represents certain values that are (in my perception) symbolized by the morningstar, that are very valuable to me as a person. Obviously, with symbols becoming more personal, it becomes less clear what their meaning is, at least without additional elucidation. In that sense symbols become more like focal points to the expresser rather than indicators to the perceiver(s); what does it mean to me and what do I stand for is more important than what do I want to get across. For me the pith and relevance of symbols lies somewhere else than for Jung – pretty much analogously to our views on life: Jung tried to reveal the meaning of life, where I prefer to give (charge) it (with) meaning. I guess my approach is more egocentric and less fatalistic, though funny enough the consequences in practical terms needn’t be very big – both views will lead to a quest for meaning.

12. You[r] album The Wing & The Burden was released on Skaldic Art. How are your relations with them? Are you satisfied with their work? Will your new materials released on the same label?

Rahab: Skaldic Art is run by Vratyas Vakyas from Falkenbach. Since Ordo Draconis joined Skaldic Art in early 2000, we have developed a special friendship. The large part of our understanding is non-professional. I think Vratyas has done a lot to help Ordo Draconis, without imposing any artistical restrictions on us. He’s not the kind of person who takes the easy way and he really believes in that bands he has under his banner. Skaldic Art is a small label, and obviously this implies restrictions. It is not a label that can send its bands on large tours, do major advertising campaigns or has its records sold in every record shop. However the bands on Skaldic Art are treated fair, getting fair studio budgets and decent royalty rates. Vratyas is an honest person who has pride in what he does and tries to do what he believes is the best, both in the interest of the bands and Skaldic Art. It is most likely that “Camera Obscura” will be released on Skaldic Art.

13. What would you say is the role and meaning of a label now? Hammerheart Records seems to be now one of the most important label in the Extreme Metal scene. What does this mean for the whole Dutch Scene? Does it have an impact even for an outside band such as yours?

Rahab: It depends on what you mean by the role of labels. In my view, for bands labels serve three basic purposes, namely providing money for recording and touring, distributing records and promoting a bands and their music. With the improved possibilities for making good sounding home-recordings, maybe the first purpose has become less important, at least for underground acts. In the ideal situation, a label has no impact whatsoever on “the art” of the bands – but well in an indirect sense that’s almost impossible. The bit I have seen of the music industry during the last number of years has given me mixed feeling towards labels. As artists we do have the ambition to reach people, preferably as many as possible. Record labels have the “means” to reach people…but almost inevitably you enter the game of commerce then. No matter how strong the ideals of a label (initially) might be, in the end it’s about money and for most labels bands become “investments”. Just like on the stock or any market, labels aim for the highest profit with smallest investment. For the continuity of the label it is important to make profit, this should be obvious. The strategy to make profit differs from label to label, but also between bands on one label. Consequence of this “investment-approach” is that the “commercial” value and the “artistic” value of bands grow even wider apart. Hypes and “formulas” turn mediocre bands famous, because such bands are interesting investments for labels. At the moment the formula in the Netherlands is rather simple by the way: find a girl with a cute face, get her a dress, make sure she doesn’t sing out of tune all the time, write a dozen of simple catchy songs on a rainy afternoon, get your drinking lads to pick up an instrument to play them and you can be sure of a record deal in no time….the rest is trivial. Wearing gay clothes with the entire band appears to be an additional advantage though. Of course I’m exaggerating (a bit), but the bottom line should be clear. To a large extent it is the way it works, and some awareness of the process is healthy I think. The general audience swallows whatever “the big record labels” put in front of their faces, while there are often much better treats around, at least from an artistic point of view. The bigger record labels can afford to buy the exposure – not only advertisements or songs on samplers, but nowadays interviews and reviews are sold too in many magazines: bands only get interviews or good reviews when advertisements or songs on the sampler are bought. It makes one think doesn’t it? Looking at the current development among labels I think you can see a polarization: the separation between “big labels” and “underground labels” is becoming more pronounced. The “medium labels” are disappearing – they quit or go bankrupt. I think it might have something to do with the availability of music on the internet. The underground labels don’t suffer from it, because of the limited investments, the limited editions and the hardcore of underground fanatics. The big labels generally have bigger acts and reach a larger more mainstream audience – people tend to buy CDs from bands they are already familiar with more easily. And for new signings these labels can buy the exposure to obtain a sense of “familiarity”. I don’t think Hammerheart has a major influence on the Dutch scene – I haven’t noticed it anyway. They have some, but not extraordinary many Dutch signings. For a band as Ordo Draconis, their influence is negligible. Hammerheart is a good example of a label that started out with a sense of idealism and developed in a commercial way, signing “names” because they guarantee sales. These guys from Desekrator for instance must have laughed their heads of, seeing they could get such crap officially released.

14. What are your plans for the future? What would you like to be your contribution to the musical evolution of the genre?

Rahab: At the moment our future plans are a 100% focused on realising “Camera Obscura”. The basis of the 7 songs that will be featured is practically finished, what remains to be done is additional arranging, and composing the intro, outro and interludes. The way it looks at the moment, the album will be partly recorded at home, partly in the studio where we rehearse and partly at a studio in Germany, where Secrets of the Moon, Obsidian Gate, Vindsval and Rivendell recorded their latest efforts. Hagalaz from Vindsval is behind the mixing desk, and having heard some of the aforementioned released I can assure you he’s quite a wizard! Unfortunately the songs on “Camera Obscura” only have preliminary titles at the moment, so it’s little use giving them at this stage. The first three songs on the album will form a conceptual trilogy and will be connected through interludes. In general, I think the new material and particularly the songs we have composed recently are more progressive than the ones on “The Wing & the Burden”, at some points maybe even a little avantgarde. The range of influences has grown bigger and the more intensive use of computers and music software have extended the possibilities to work out a certain idea. The use of “non typical” rhythms and samples has worked well for the songs I think. However I wish and can assure that we didn’t hopelessly lost ourselves in senseless experimenting, I can even assure you that “Camera Obscura” will sound a lot heavier than its predecessor. Though I am still happy with and proud of our debut full length we did learn about things that could and should improve. Obviously not everything has changed with our (natural) progression, in some cases the references to our debut are even quite strong. For instance, like with the “Danse Macabre”-piece by Saent-Saens on our debut, we have taken a classical piece and incorporated into one of our songs. We have chosen a splendid piece by Schubert this time, and the approach and way of incorporating has been entirely different. What would we like to be our contribution to the evolution of the musical genre? Even answering the question seems to be pretentious. I think I would have to split my awnser up in two parts. We do want and believe we have something to contribute to “the genre”. However, the evolution of the genre is fully subordinate to the evolution of Ordo Draconis as an entity. We want to develop and fulfill our own musical aspirations – what impact that has on the evolution of the scene is not really something that’s on our minds. If we can help the genre to evolve, that’s great, but what’s most important is, that the means with which we would do so are ours; that the music remains “our own”, that it is artistically integer and meaningful to us. So basically I would like our evolution to be our contribution to the evolution to the genre, hehe.

15. I guess that sums up everything! Anything to add in the end…?

Rahab: Well, I guess I have been demanding enough on you, your readers and you printing expenses. I wish to thank you for this great interview, I had a good time replying. Best of luck with your activities in the scene, Negru!