Dagon (Inquisition) interviewed

Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm is your fifth record. How do you feel it compares, artistically speaking, to its predecessors?Dagon: Artistically and technically, it’s the best album Inquisition has done in every sense. The performance is tight, the production is clear and very organic, the riffs are rich and more on the attack than ever, the transitions are fluid, vicious and creative drumming, while the vocals clearly mark the territory, letting everyone know these vocals are here to stay.

Are you aware that “Astral Path to Supreme Majesties” features what sounds like musical elements from Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych’s “Carol of the Bells”?
Dagon: I had a few people point that out, yes. I am classically trained, so it doesn’t surprise me that I wrote that melody in a mode that reminds people of something classic like.

Musically, where do all your killer riffs come from? Each song is packed with killer, if sometimes odd, riffs.
Dagon: This is a very deep question for me. How does one answer this efficiently? Well, I love the guitar first of all, much more than metal itself. I see a guitar as my second soul and through it I speak, therefore what comes out of it must be important, must be good and meaningful because I have important things to say with it. I want to elevate people spiritually with my melodies and take them to realms where my mind is most of the time, where my thoughts are and allow them to see what is there… It is heaven and hell entwined into one unit. My thoughts and inspiration are fueled by the universe, the cosmos, and the astral sea where the true ‘Satan’ exists.

You use a lot of counterpoint. Lots of rhythms, chords, melodies on top of each other. Can you talk about the songwriting process?
Dagon: I begin writing riffs alone. Once I have several riffs I get together with Incubus and we start working on the rhythm section of these particular riffs, like tempo, beat patterns and refining them with the drums. Once we have several riffs worked out with the drums then we later move forward to merging these riffs together. This process can take two years and on this last album I really took my time. I wanted every single riff to be right, to flow, to go up and come down without losing strength. We worked on drums more than ever before. Incubus really took care of adding to these riffs and not taking away from them or interfering with them by not over drumming or ornamenting too much. There are times when I write guitar lines in his company, I need him there with me drumming while I improvise looking for the right moods. That I do mostly when I am searching for more aggressive parts, brutal parts with blasting drums. It is a process of many steps forward and many steps back until I am happy with what we have.

You’re officially a duo. Do you prefer working as a two-person band?
Dagon: Absolutely. It’s the only way we know how to work. We don’t need any more people anyway; if we did then we would not be a two piece. We are a two piece because it works

Vocally, it sounds as if Immortal’s Abbath was an inspiration. Was he? And what do you make of people who say your vocals are just a copy of someone else’s?
Dagon: No, he was not an inspiration at all. My style of vocals. Abbath’s style. Attila Csihar. Root. [They] are all a style. Few bands sing in this manner, so naturally anyone who does vocals in this manner will be compared to a more pop black metal band doing them. The irony is so many bands sing in a similar style, the Dark Throne-Dark Funeral school, I call it yet none are compared to each other. These comparisons are obviously coming more from newer ears, people just discovering us or simply [with a] one-dimensional mind that unfortunately cannot free their mind of other bands during a fresh listening session.

What does Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm mean exactly?
Dagon: It means ‘obscure laws of the universe’ and I couldn’t explain it better. The laws of thermodynamics and astrophysics in general are to me a parallel of heaven and hell, fire and ice. It’s a simple concept but really, during mankind’s entire lifetime heavens and hells have been all around us. Space is the ultimate power ever known to man and nature itself, the infinite universe is darkness, Satan in real living form. The veil of space has been the greatest source of magic throughout the ancient world and today humanity has disconnected from it greatly. Look to the stars and there you will find the forces of darkness projecting its magic many of us are completely disassociated from. The obscurity, mysticism and mystery of the universe are an element that tells me where humanity’s concept of Satan comes from.

Tell me what’s happening with the cover? The fold-out is killer. I like the fact that it’s not totally professional but that it sets the right mood for the music.
Dagon: The cover painting shows the duality in the cosmic plane. Between the two forces is a dead star that is cracked with an opening in the middle, which is a black hole where all light dies… That dead star is an axis the two forces revolve around that ultimately are destroyed by the black hole. This is my explanation. Our artist comments that the painting is the trinity, basically positive, negative and neutral all forming one power. Both he and I are on the same note in terms of our vision for the cover. I told him what the concept of the album was and that I wanted to see it on the cover. He already had views similar to the concept of this album which in turn allowed for him to make the perfect interpretation. The fold out was necessary for the art to reveal itself in stages. Maybe it’s not professional in pop terms? I am not sure what you mean by that exactly but the underground feel is there for sure. Nothing flashy, no excess. All art painted by hand 100 percent.

In your view, how does the occult differ from Satanism? Are they related or different entities?
Dagon: Satanism is a philosophy in the realm of the occult. The occult is a generalization but Satanism is a branch of the occult, where the glorification of Satan and Lucifer is seen as a symbol of self will, preservation and strength.

I’ve read you had to perform ‘bare back’ before. What’s it like to perform without corpsepaint?
Dagon: Like anything you do that goes outside of your routines, it can feel different and it did. But we didn’t let it get to us in the least. Nothing changed, as meaningful as the face paint is to me, in the end it’s just that. There is lots of meaning behind it when you have it, but it’s an image and image should never make your music. I mean, if it gets stolen or lost well, the show goes on and the ritual begins.

What does corpsepaint mean to you? I know some bands use as a ritual device whereas others it’s merely another face for another character.
Dagon: As I said, it has enormous amounts of meaning and it truly does affect how I feel when I play. Putting on the paint is a ritual in itself. I get real impatient when people are talking to me while I put it on, it has that much meaning. I like to be alone while I apply it, think about the invocations we will be doing onstage and visualize what we will be doing. Putting on the paint is a very deep moment for me before performing and has a meditative effect.

What do you think of the fan and media attention currently being directed towards Inquisition? Do you think it’s part of the record-tour-record process or does it mean something more? Like your music finally getting heard by more people. Not sure if that’s important or not.
Dagon: It is extremely important to us and has great significance. I think at this point what is happening is only natural. We have been around for a long time, five full-lengths and many tours later, media attention from the larger part of the scene is bound to get interested in Inquisition. We are not for the majority of people, some have a real hard time liking our music, taking us seriously but more often than not they end up connecting with our music and realizing they had to unwind a bit and re-think what they were listening to. Possibly that is what’s happening now after all these years, media and people in general are understanding what Inquisition is doing and our music is now growing on them.

Will there be more touring?
Dagon: Absolutely. Inquisition is a live act and will always perform live everywhere.

** Inquisition’s Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm is out now on Hell’s Headbangers. Order it here.