Cobalt’s Phil McSorley moves on to the hateful underworld of Recluse

by Kim Kelly
Phil McSorley has no interest in talking about Cobalt, and would appreciate it if people would stop fucking asking him about their recording plans. His frustration is understandable, given that he’s just weeks away from the release of his pet project’s first demo and he’s still being bombarded by questions about his flashier MDF-approved collaboration with Erik Wunder. The new material McSorley’s been working on has little to nothing in common with Cobalt; hell, it’s more Vlad Tepes than anything. Recluse represents the all-consuming misanthropy of black metal’s best-known drill sergeant, and, save for bass tracks recorded by Loss’s Mike Meacham (who also spearheads Graceless Recordings), it’s entirely McSorley’s doing. As he says, it’s not for wimps.

Up until this past Tuesday, only one Recluse song had surfaced. Posted to YouTube a few months back, “No Way Out” is a death march of a song, coldly melodic and lashed to a shambling, measured pace culled straight from a 1996 Belketre demo. McSorley’s vocals are an amoral groan rattling deep within his throat, choking on their own vitriol and disgust, and the raw production serves to amplify, not obscure.

Another song, “Erect Holy Strangulation,” was just posted here, and it’s a doozy. We had a nice cozy chat with McSorley about his wretched new brainchild below.

You’ve kept Recluse largely under wraps up until recently. Why take such a low-key approach?
McSorley: I am doing it this way because this is not music for the casual listener. I don’t expect many to identify with Recluse because people are inherently cowards, and their ears are accustomed to more liberal sounds. Recluse is the music of repulsive violence without compromise.

You’ve said that people who like Cobalt won’t like this.
McSorley: Cobalt has nothing to do with Recluse. Recluse is a self-aggrandizing exercise in violence towards the repulsive cowards and sheep that comprise humanity. I have always been the pointed tip of Cobalt, bringing the danger and violence to the band. Erik Wunder is very talented, and we work well together, but Cobalt will never capture the hate I feel for people musically like Recluse.

Besides the obvious LLN worship, what other sounds or subjects influenced the creation of this first demo?
McSorley: Recluse has been compared a lot to LLN bands, though this wasn’t intentional. I am fine with the comparison if it is made by people educated about their words. I’m not going to run off a list of bands that I take influence from. Those who understand the feeling of hate that I put into this music already know what my influences must be. As for subjects that create this feeling, there is only the genetically coded hate I have for nearly every person I meet.

How long has the concept for Recluse existed, and when did you first start writing material? What do you tackle in the lyrics? “No Way Out” seems like it could have a variety of meanings, given your background.
McSorley: I have been writing for this project for a few years in between other commitments. This year I decided to give this disgusting feeling a name. The lyrics are about decimation, profaning the saints of Jehovah/Muhammad, war, isolationism and hate for mankind. “No Way Out” is lyrically concerned with the frightening solitude of death, taken from the perspective of an extreme misanthrope who revels in centuries of silence.

What was the recording process like? I know that you’ve generally got fuck-all free time to start with, and now with you in Georgia and Meacham in Nashville, even the comparatively short distance must have been a pain in the ass.
McSorley: The recording process was completed by me, minus the bass. Mike Meacham recorded the bass on this demo, and will probably continue to contribute his negative energy to Recluse. The mixing was done by Zack Allen of Obsidian Eye Studios. Both are completely understanding of the true goals of Recluse: to create hateful and violent black metal.

Graceless Recordings will be releasing the demo on tape. Why go for cassette? Do you have plans to release it on any other formats?
McSorley: Recluse is not for the idling listener. I am not opposed to any other formats, but I believe that a demo should be released on cassette. It’s not my problem if people don’t have a cassette player.

What are your goals for this project? Will you continue creating music under its banner, or was this a one-off?
McSorley: Recluse will continue to record and release records on its own terms. If only 30 people in the world get a Recluse tape and understand and relate to the message, it will change nothing for me. Integrity is a relic of years gone by in metal. I want nothing to do with its money-grubbing, perfect production-humping, and contract-peddling bullshit. You are all fucking scum.

What newer bands should those who dig Recluse look out for?
McSorley: People should listen to whatever moves them and stay the fuck away from things they know nothing about. For those who feel as I feel, the amazing Canadian project Gevurah comes with the highest recommendation.