“Chaos reigns.” Yes, that’s what Lars Von Trier’s self-cannibalizing doom-fox notoriously growled in Antichrist. But it’s also a suitable battle cry for Turkish black metal torchbearers The Sarcophagus.
Formed in 1996 by mastermind Burak Sümer, The Sarcophagus’ two-decade crusade includes a couple albums and EPs. Despite that modest discography, their roots reach deep into black metal’s second wave. After the departure of Shining provocateur Niklas Kvarforth, The Sarcophagus entered a state of hibernation while searching for an appropriate vocal replacement. Now eight years after Towards the Eternal Chaos, The Sarcophagus crack open the crypt once again with Beyond This World’s Illusion – a rousing international collaboration between Satanath Records (Russia), Death Portal Studio (USA), Fila Sophiae (Sweden) and Sphera Noctis Records (Brazil).
With Todestriebe venom-spitter Mørk now on the mic, The Sarcophagus charge through familiar battlegrounds with reborn boldness. “Reign of Chaos” carries crestfallen guitars with unrelenting blastbeats before kicking into a blackened Stooges riff. Later, “Sapremia of Earthly Creatures” subtly shapeshifts its airy melodies into cosmic dread. Like the striking cover artwork by Paolo Girardi, Beyond This World’s Illusion inhabits the comforting ruins of ’90s extreme metal while introducing new horrors.
Below, check out an interview with Burak Sümer (guitars/synth) about chaos and black metal’s spiritual shift. But first, venture Beyond This World’s Illusion with The Sarcophagus before the album’s April 4th release.
With such a long delay between albums, how does it feel to share these new songs?
Burak Sümer: Yes, it has been very long time since Towards The Eternal Chaos was released in 2009. It is always cool to rise from the ashes and spread the disease once again. Sharing the things we did with metal fans all around the world makes us feel great, and that feeling motivates us to prepare new music. I hope we can record the next one much sooner.
How did you recruit new vocalist Mørk?
Sümer: When our recent vocalist Niklas Kvaforth decided to focus on Shining properly, we started to look for a new vocalist for the new album. We have good relationships with the Russian metal scene over there, and Mørk from the band Todestriebe was one of them. We believe that a frontman is very important because they introduce the band’s music and philosophy to the audiences. So we thought that Mørk was the right person as a voice of darkness. His voice sounds otherworldly, and we love how well it fits with the music. He is a good friend to us, and a talented musician.
As one of the original Turkish black metal bands, how have you seen black metal change over the past 20 years?
Sümer: We are linked to the roots, and ’90s black metal has a big influence on our music. It is very clear that as years pass and Black Metal becomes very popular it strays further away from its occult character. Black metal is not only a music genre, but a dark spiritual expression touching the soul. There are too many BM bands, but very few of them can do it. The music might be good, the production is perfect, but it doesn’t capture the spirit of the ’90s. On the other hand, there are still very cool bands who still keep the black flame burning.
You often discuss chaos in your songs. Do you think the world is a more chaotic place now than when you formed in 1996?
Sümer: Yes, we use the Chaos theme very often, but this reference to Chaos relates to an anti-cosmos theme in our music. But about the world’s chaos: yes, I totally agree that the world has become a more chaotic place since 1996. Humankind has aimed to destroy everything around us. Of course there were bad things in 1996, but in my opinion if the world ends it will be caused by politics and religion.
The album artwork by Paolo Girardi is amazing. What instructions did you provide, and what does the album cover mean to you?
Sümer: When I talked with Paolo, he wanted band materials to understand our expectations and to create a vision for The Sarcophagus. Together we discussed the things in my mind, and after some time he returned with a masterpiece. We were imagining a world beyond this physical world – as you can understand from the album title – and Paolo brought it to life. On the front cover there is a huge sick beast which does not belong to this earth, and it is bringing sick new creations like itself. We didn’t want to use standard black and white BM artwork this time, and the result was perfect. We would like to thank Paolo Girardi, once again.
What is planned for the band in 2017 and beyond?
Sümer: As soon as we find a new drummer we are going to plan some gigs. We have already started to prepare new materials for the next album. Beyond This World’s Illusion motivated us to make an even better one. There may be a new recording in 2017.
Pre-order Beyond This World’s Illusion from Satanath Records HERE before its official release on April 4th. Don’t forget to embrace the chaos of social media and visit The Sarcophagus on Facebook to stay updated on upcoming gigs and recordings.