We first covered Australia’s one man black metal outfit Kommodus last December after the release of Will To Dominate All Life, their debut demo. Earlier this year, about six months ago, we again caught up with Lepidus Plague, Kommodus’ sole member (besides session drummer/co-conspirator Magnus TRJ and trumpeter AH), to discuss his second demonstration cassette, One Thousand Years Of The Wolf.
On October 14th, Kommodus released their third demo, From The Ashes Of Empire. Six tracks of searing black metal introduced, yet again, by a peaceful neo-folk instrumental, and also including a cover of a classic second black metal song; proving that if Kommodus stands for anything it’s consistency. Also, with the release of From The Ashes… Lepidus Plague further distinguishes himself from the slew of modern lo-fi black metal acts. Unlike many of those bands, as you’ll observe while listening to From The Ashes Of Empire, Kommodus’ prolificacy does not come at the cost of his creativity. On the contrary, Kommodus’ particular brand of unhinged imperial black metal seems only to be getting more interesting and more dangerous.
So we reached out once again to the Infernal Emperor Lepidus Plague to discuss his latest demonstration.
An Interview with Lepidus Plague of Kommodus
First of all, let’s talk about the title, From the Ashes of Empire. You make a lot of references to the Roman Empire in your lyrics and imagery. Is this another one, or are you referring to the burning of another empire?
With the title I’m referring to the contemporary setting. The greatest empires of the world have been erected and subsequently crumbled, the zenith reached. A lot of the songs on the demo deal with having arrived at the conclusion of a period, or facing the consequences from the past – from the ashes.
What inspired the opening instrumental track, “Visions Of Elysium?”
The track just came about organically. I was playing the acoustic guitar one day and thought the tune sounded worthy of the new demo. But I do always enjoy writing those sorts of songs for intros, outros, and interludes, as they give an opportunity to explore different sorts of sounds I wouldn’t usually incorporate into my focal music.
What keeps you so inspired and what motivates your prolific output? Do you see your contemporaries putting out tapes and does it inspire you to push yourself as well?
I have moments where I get a lot of inspiration at once, and I write it all down and that tides me over for a long time. The impetus for the first three Kommodus demos came during the same day, and I feel I already know what I want to for the project in both the immediate and later future. I generally just enjoy the constant attempt to write better songs, write better lyrics, get better instrumental takes while recording, etc. To keep heaving the Sisyphean boulder. But always seeing and hearing great new releases coming out definitely keeps me encouraged, inspired, and the flame burning.
The second track “Piercing Thine Armor With Arrows Of Fire” is a straight-out-the-gates vicious slayer of a track. Where’d the spleen for this song come from? With a line like “This is War” (Hoc est bellum), is this your call-to-arms song?
I suppose it is, yes! I wanted to kick off this demo with a bludgeoning sonic assault. Hopefully that was achieved. The song like any other just came from me imagining some scene in my head, this being a sky eclipsed with flaming arrows ready to decimate an opposing army.
Are the lyrics for “Glacial Ossuary” referencing a specific, like sword & sorcery/fantasy story, or is this theme your own idea—or is it a metaphor for something?
Through conversations over the last few years I’ve heard countless stories along the lines of—because of global warming—bodies from WW2 are being found intact in previously desolate places on the old eastern front, or scientists are discovering new specimens from the cavemen era, or the Russians are going to be able to access new wealth as geographic spots become available to access for resources. I thought of old spirits being trapped underneath the ice eventually being set free by the increasing warmth, ready to reap and raze the contemporary world. Now that I think about it it’s a similar premise to John Carpenter’s The Thing, though the song is not concerned with a parasitic alien.
Several of the new tracks erupt into these rockin’ heavy metal parts. Don’t these parts make you want to play Kommodus live? How soon will that be realized?
They do. I’d consider performing with Kommodus live if there was an offer put forward that would make the effort of assembling a live band and rehearsing all the material worthwhile. Until then I have other projects to enjoy the live aspect of playing with.
How was the recording process for From the Ashes of Empire? Did you do anything differently this time around?
This demo, in comparison to the first two, was recorded in multiple sessions and then added to in fragments due to multiple set-backs. It was frustrating and tedious, but perhaps the struggle ultimately added to the atmosphere of the songs. Either way I’m happy with how things turned out.
Tell me about the song writing process for “Rituals Of The Incestuous Shadow Colony.” This is a dynamic song, but it manages to maintain the same blood-crazed mood throughout. How did this song come together, and what inspired some of the more unique passages in the latter half?
I wanted to have a song that incorporated some acoustic elements akin to something off of Dark Medieval Times and then later in the song have a section using a phaser pedal which is what Gorgoroth did on the track ‘Maneskyggen’s Slave’ off Pentagram. So I guess in regards to my musical ideas concerning the song they’re both very inspired and contrived. Lyrically the song tells a narrative, it’s self-explanatory if you read the words.
How did you decide on the Emperor cover for this record?
I love early Emperor and wanted to record a cover. Something from their inception period when they were particularly ferocious and raw, but also a song that was able to be covered. I don’t think many would be up to the task of covering something off In The Nightside Eclipse, or beyond.
What are the details for the physical manifestations of From The Ashes Of Empire?
Cassettes will be released through Archaic Memories (UK) sometime in December or January, and vinyl through Goatowarex (China) following that.
What’s next for the mighty Kommodus?
I’m about to begin working on Demonstration IV, An Imperial Sun Rises. A release concerned with the legacy of the mighty Yukio Mishima, and imperial Japan.