How instrumental was the faux-documentary/film The Hellstrom Chronicle to the making of Insects?v.03/170: The film wasn’t that essential on our musical concept, but it surely influenced the overall lyrical concept on Insects. Its abysmal mood and the menacing close-ups of actually small creatures give a special kind of impression which helped to form pictures in mind about a matter which is relatively unusual reason for a threat. But threatening is fear and can release existential fears. And this is essential for our lyrics and music at all.
Was Insects first framed with music or did the lyrical direction come first? Curious which informed which as it pertains to the album.
v.03/170: For Insects we started—in difference to IIII—with writing the music. But in early process we started to develop a thematic carpet, to have a hint what the music should sound like. We intended to get some apocalyptic atmosphere, which could be combined with different lyrical themes. The one it finally became rose, out of the nearly finished instrumental structures.
I think Insects is a massive improvement over IIII. It’s more nuanced. The music has impact. Did you seek to improve or was it evolution of skill taking place?
v.03/170: Well, that’s not that easy to say. As a musician you will always try to improve your skills. But it’s not just about forthcoming in handling your instrument, but also the further development of mind. So during the writing process of Insects our musical taste has widen a lot which is a huge influence on everyone’s contribution to this album. So mental evolution is what makes us go ahead. Everything else would be stagnation.
The riffs on Insects are massive. It’s sort of the perfect storm of cool/different riffs, the right tones, and riff placement. I gather special attention was made to riffs, guitar tones, and dynamics.
v.03/170: Do you play the guitar yourself? [Laughs] Everyone who talked to us noticed different advancements. Be it drums, bass, vocals or even guitars. So, I suppose with a closer look on each instrument itself you will see that there was an overall improvement of every single part and in unity of course. The band itself got stronger by growing together.
How important are theme repetition, contrast, and control to Farsot’s music making?
v.03/170: The elements you mention are all essential for our music. The squeamish application and aimed placement are an indispensable part of our tracks. The weighting is more intuitive than calculated, but at all each of those elements needs the other ones to unfurl its full effect. Just for example: with a silence before, a loud part seems much louder.
I feel like Insects is near-perfectly edited. Was there a lot of trim work during the compositional phase?
v.03/170: It has more than one cause that the successor of IIII needed about four years to be released. We’re very self-critical about our work and just want to release an album when we’re really convinced about it. So, there’s a permanent reviewing of the songs, we’ve tested many of them live-suitability before recording and that includes a permanent reviewing and changing of structures or even the trim work you mentioned. So, the short and only answer can be: Yes!
I really like how the album progresses as a collection of songs. It can (and should) be experienced as a whole or as individual songs. “The Vermilion Trail”, “Empyrean”, and “Like Flakes of Rust” could be representative of Insects as standalone tracks. Can you comment on album progression and individual song diversity?
v.03/170: Our first thought when writing an album is the flow of all songs and some kind of continuous thread running through. But this time, different to its predecessor, the songs of Insects weren’t meant as a single song with some splitting markers between. Each song should stand for itself and should have a unique character, a different musical proposition, but at the end when listened to in combination the borders should melt and the album should be recognized as a unit.
I hear a lot of Mayhem (vocals) and Enslaved (rhythms, chord progressions) on Insects. Were certain songs meant to play homage to the Norwegians or happy accidents? I’m referring directly to “Perdition” and “Empyrean”, respectively.
v.03/170: It’s a big compliment to be compared with such great artists like Mayhem and Enslaved, but the parallels happened more or less by chance. We won’t ever deny the influence those artists had to our musical taste and maybe also into our play itself, but we’re no cover band and also don’t try to copy riffs or even complete passages consciously. But if during writing process of a song some part sounds like being in the veins of some greater act and fits perfectly to our concept, we surely won’t force avoiding the parallels. We will more try to give it a suit which fits to our sound.
Two of the album’s standout tracks are instrumentals: “7” and “Somnolent”. Are they meant to be eyes of the storm, so to speak? “7”, in particular, is wonderfully tranquil, which, in many respects, is opposed to the caustic approach of its direct neighbors.
v.03/170: There’re many ways to interpret the meaning of those instrumental parts. The one you speak about is just one. Stay open for more possibilities—maybe in the context of the lyrics… Who knows?
The ending to “The Vermilion Trail” is brilliant. The theme/riff repetition/alternating percussive patterns, the Hellstrom narration clip and then the bass-heavy noise coda have an apocalyptic aura to them. That you segue “The Vermilion Trail” into the monolithic front-piece to “Withdrawl” is goddamn icing on the sonic cake.
v.03/170: Well… Thanks. The end of “The Vermilion Trail” used to be completely different to what it’s now. It was one of the first tracks that was completed, but the end was always an unloved child, which we were never really happy about. It had some ‘Satyriconesque’ riffing and wouldn’t fit to the rest of the album. But we recorded it on our first studio sessions. When we came back to finish the recordings, we told the engineer to throw away the end and we played a loop of the rocking part instead and gave him the droning samples, etc. He looked at us with huge eyes and asked us if we were really sure about that. What you tell us here shows up. That it was the right decision.
What do you want people to take away from listening to Insects?
v.03/170: At first, we want everybody to take a time-out from life, daily routine and thoughts. Man shall realize that there’s different things than just hurrying from one date to the next. One should take time to dive into a deep complex matter, which doesn’t just have to consist in material ways. On the other hand he should always be aware of thinking to be the main species on this planet. There’s always something that’s bigger and mightier than oneself. That’s not to [be] interpreted in some religious or spiritual way.
A friend of mine commented on the production. Actually, how great it is. It’s warm, dense, yet there’s a surprising amount of clarity. Compared to IIII, it’s is huge step forward. What went into the recording, mixing, and mastering? Did you have “example” recordings for reference points?
v.03/170: You may understand this as a caesura to IIII, whose production was cold and clear with a kind of mystical density. We’ve gone a step away from the black metal typical type of sound, so in music as well as in the way to represent it. We had a clear view in mind to keep it dry and direct, no distant instruments or vocals—a more intimate atmosphere, but still with the ability to lose oneself within the music. There were no examples at all, but we knew the previous works of our engineer, Markus Stock, and with a bit of own experience in recording we got a result which we’re pleased with.
It seems like Farsot thrives on minimalism. From the obscure band photos to the sparse text inside IIII and Insects is the band more from the ‘music do the talking’ school or is it a reaction to the overabundance of hyperbole in metal? Black metal, in particular.
v.03/170: Maybe it’s a bit of both. We want that people first listen to music. We want to show them, that individuals don’t count in our band, but the band at all as a unit. We never dealt with signs, cliches, big meanings or occult spiritualism. We leave that up to others, who are really in that matter. We’re definitely too reasonable for such themes.
It’s my personal opinion that while Farsot borrows elements of forebears—some more noticeable than others—you’ve crafted the quintessential black metal album. Maybe the most important black metal album in the last 10 years. It pretends nothing. Rather, it portends only what the listener is able to conjure during and after exposure. That’s dastardly evil, right there.
v.03/170: Thanks a lot. I suppose, it’s not a secret but almost forgotten, that there’s much power in imagination which we unlearn to use more and more. Watching a movie presents us everything clear to screen, but reading a book can build worlds in your head and lets you forget that there are letters. Maybe that’s a step back which we shouldn’t miss to take—whether in the world of written word neither in music. Just trying to leave the mind blank that there’s room for recreation.
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