The next October 30 will see the world launch of one of the most anticipated albums within the Black Metal scene.
It is the debut album of the Belgian band ANTZAAT, which will be titled ‘For You Men Who Gaze Into the Sun’, and will be released by the Immortal Frost Productions label. For this reason, we decided to interview them to learn more about this young band, which obtained excellent reviews among specialized fanzines with their first EP ‘The Black Hand of the Father’. Without further ado, let’s get started.
First of all, we want to thank you for granting us this interview and receiving a cordial greeting on behalf of HEADBANGERS LATINOAMERICA.
Let’s start by talking about your beginnings in 2015. How and why did you form ANTZAAT, and why do you play Black Metal and not some other metal genre? Tell us about that training process.
Isaroth and Eenzaat:
We had the idea to form a band. We decided to contact our friend Ronarg because we know he is a good musician / songwriter. He happily answered our call and joined the band as lead guitarist / vocalist. We weren’t 100 percent sure what kind of black metal we were going to play at first, but when Ronarg joined in, everything fell into place. We started rehearsing the songs he wrote and made some adjustments to our individual parts. As we prepared for the live shows and the release of our EP ‘The Black Hand of the Father’ in 2017, we contacted Nihil to join the band as a rhythm guitarist.
We have learned that Antzaat is an old Dutch word that means to be hostile and hateful. To be against’. From the perspective of ANTZAAT as a band, what are you against and what do you want to convey with your music?
We took the name Antzaat because it sounded great to us. We didn’t really have anything in mind for the lyrics at the time, so the two are not really connected. But if we have to be against something, it would be the dystopian future closing in on us. Every little change has consequences for the future, and in light of current events, it doesn’t look very good. But, due to its abstract nature, the path of the cosmos is not always very easy to understand and it is very possible that we are wrong.
Many of us wonder why they cover their faces, despite the fact that these days various bands do too, such as Mgła, Uada, Batushka, Cult of Fire, to name a few, and they have explained their reasons, but why? ANTZAAT does it? ? What is your opinion of the people who compare you to the mentioned bands, especially the first two?
It is only fair that people compare our appearances with Mgla and Uada as they are similar in presentation. But our music and lyrics are not related to yours in any way as far as we know.
We do not know his reasoning about it but for us it is a way of presenting ourselves as a unified whole. The big difference would be the symbols on our hoods, which allow us to retain part of our individuality. To make it simpler; we are a collection of individuals. And we want people to focus on our music during live performances, not our appearances.
Tell us the meaning of the symbols on the hoods of each of your sweatshirts.
They are the symbols of the planets. Ronarg uses Saturn, Nihil uses Neptune, Isaroth uses Uranus, and Eenzaat uses Mercury. The symbols correspond to us on a deep personal and spiritual level.
In 2017, when your EP ‘The Black Hand of the Father’ was released, which was well received among black metal fans, were you expecting all those positive reviews, or were you surprised by it?
We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were very satisfied with the EP. That’s one of the most important things about playing in a band, playing the music that you love. Positive reviews and comments are a nice bonus.
Due to the success of your first EP, you were invited to participate in various events with renowned bands. Are there any of those events that stand out the most as your favorite? Just out of curiosity, can you tell us a positive or negative anecdote that comes to mind first from those shows?
After one of the first shows of the Azaghal tour, we were supposed to sleep backstage. It was a kind of farmer’s latrine connected to the place. The walls were covered in rat and pigeon shit, the few mattresses they had smelled of mold and semen, and it was fucking cold. There was also a faint smell of blood there, especially in the fridge where they kept the beer. So I guess they used that place to slaughter animals or store corpses. So we decided to go home for the night, as it wasn’t too far away.
A week later we had to open in Brno, Czech Republic. It was a short set, we only played 30 minutes. We had candles lit at the front of the stage. The crowd was so drunk and wild that they kept knocking down the candles. It was fucking amazing. Ronarg almost caught fire, but it’s still one of the best shows on the tour. It is difficult to explain, there was some electricity in the air. They even demanded an encore, so this is the first time we’ve played the title track ‘For You Men Who Gaze Into The Sun’ live. The crowd really gave us a lot of energy to continue our tour on a positive note. So yeah, that was awesome.
Now, speaking of what your debut album ‘For You Men Who Gaze into the Sun’ will be, what is the meaning of the title? Tell us about the process of writing and recording it, because as we all know the pandemic has caused many problems in Europe and in the rest of the world.
The title is a tribute to all the men who started out with good intentions but lost their purpose or will along the way. Far from his original intentions, corrupted by the failure of his own ambitions.
I think the writing started immediately after the release of our EP. At some point the album was almost finished, but we decided it wasn’t very good so we scrapped it, reused all the riffs we could, and started over. This time we felt like we got it right and started rehearsing, polishing everything up for the recording process. The album was recorded in pretty much the same way as the demo.
We don’t have a huge studio budget so we have to plan for this limitation and try different things to make it work. As it happens, the rehearsal complex where we practice has some kind of deal where you can get a professional recording setup and sound technician for a good price if you’re an underground band or beginner. The only problem is the time limit because we only had two days. That’s why we only record drums there. This was in October 2019.
The guitars and bass were recorded around January 2020. We recorded at home with equipment that sometimes barely worked. A good tip is to always record the DI signals so that you can later reamplify your guitar. This works great when you live in a small apartment or have annoying neighbors.
The vocals were later recorded at our usual rehearsal location. After reassembling, we sent the recordings to Wolfthrone Studios and Owe Inborr did the rest. It was a difficult and complicated process, but we were lucky enough to do everything before closing. Unfortunately, the production itself was delayed because of it.
It would be great to go to a studio for about 10 days, but if you’re on a budget, you need to get creative. It is difficult, but never impossible.
The first single from the album, ‘Man Made Flesh Made God Machine’, was recently released. Any particular reason why that was the single of choice?
‘Man Made Flesh Made God Machine’ is the most representative song on the album. It gives the listener a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. From melodic riffs driven by explosive rhythms to (almost catchy) medium tempo parts.
The artwork was in charge of a member of the band, René Thuys ‘Ronarg’, who also participates in the band ARS VENEFICIUM. What was the concept behind the making of the cover, which shows two skeletons impaling each other with some kind of spears?
The album cover is based on the song ‘Veil of Darkness’. ‘An immovable tragic dance, a battle of the ancients’. So I had this idea of two entities fighting or ‘dancing’ if you will. Both trapped in a position where if one tried to eliminate the other, they would indirectly destroy themselves as well. A bit like the MAD situation. This idea eventually evolved into the two skeletal spearmen. I find it a very powerful symbol.
As far as we know, Ronarg is the main songwriter for both bands. What inspires Ronarg to write songs and is there any difference in inspirations or reasons for both bands? What is the process like from the beginning to the moment you decide that a song is complete?
I really don’t know where I get my inspiration from, music comes naturally to me. A good way to write music is to sing out loud and put the melodies that stay with you later in your song. However, I cannot deny the influence that bands like Sargeist, Gorgoroth and Azaghal have had on our music.
A song never really ends. It evolves over time by repeating it over and over and adding things slowly in the process. When Ronarg ships the first version, each of us modifies his respective parts and practices until he is ready to play the band rehearsal. When a song has been played a couple of times, we get an idea of how the riffs and drum fills work. But until recording there are still things that we change about a song. The version you hear on an album is the closest to a finished song you can get!
As for Ars Veneficium, the process is largely the same, but less consistent and more eclectic, as there is no clear direction. But in general I think the songs for antzaat are more medium tempo, uplifting, melodic and the songs for Ars Veneficium are faster and more aggressive and use more powerful chords.
From your point of view, do you think it is possible to live off extreme music, specifically Black Metal? What does everyone do when they are not making music?
At this point in our career, we cannot make a living from our music. It may never be. It would be nice, but it is not our goal. We believe that it is possible to make a living from extreme music in general, also from black metal. However, it depends on many factors; what label are you signed with, your booking agency, the music available on streaming services, entry into popular playlists, word of mouth… Your presence on social media is also important if you want the labels to notice it. And above all, personal motivation.
We all have day jobs in addition to making music. Ronarg is an artist / painter, Nihil is a motorcycle mechanic, Isaroth is studying music management at university, and Eenzaat is a web designer.
After all this pandemic is over, are you thinking of going on a tour to promote your album? And more specifically we would like to know if traveling through South America is in your plans. What have you heard about the Latino audience? Do you know any band from our continent?
Currently we will have to wait until the pandemic is over to make plans, because we cannot predict the future. Many companies / agencies in the music industry are struggling right now, it is difficult for promoters to organize profitable or unprofitable concerts due to Covid-19 regulations. Unfortunately, we will have to see what remains of the music industry after the pandemic.
We are more than interested in touring South America. Promoters / reservations can always contact our reservation agency in the near future to see what is possible. But as stated above, we currently have no tour plans. We hear that South American fans are very dedicated, enthusiastic and hospitable. We’d love to see for ourselves if these rumors are true!
We are not very familiar with so many South American bands as it is mostly European bands that tour and play in Belgium. But the ones that have our interest are: Eternal Sacrifice, Uaral (RIP), Cemeterium and Krisiun.
With nothing more for the moment, we would like to thank you for your time. Is there anything you would like to add or say to your audience on our continent?
We would like to begin by thanking you for this interview. We are very grateful for the fans we have in South America. Stay safe and support your local (black metal) scene!
- Interview by: Februus Fenrael
- Spanish translation by: Will Rojas
- The band photos were by: Daan de Roeck
Follow ANTZAAT on their official social networks: