Kommodus are nothing if not consistent. Whether it’s their raw and powerful black metal sound, their unique but true aesthetics, the literal number of tracks on their releases (almost always 7); or the fact that the second-to-last tracks on their demos are always covers. Even this interview is in keeping with tradition for Kommodus. This will be the fourth time we’ve featured an interview with Kommodus’ Lepidus Plague since that first time for Demo:listen in 2017.
In less than two years, Kommodus have risen to become one of the most revered and anticipated bands in the current black metal underground. Undoubtedly this is largely due to Kommodus’ dedication to their art. In that short time, Kommodus have rabidly produced some of the fiercest black metal of recent times. When Lepidus Plague told us last year that he would soon be working on An Imperial Sun Rises, “a release concerned with the legacy of . . . [20th century Japanese artist] Yukio Mishima,” it was surprising, but it makes perfect sense, as Mishima was known for his discipline and dedication to his art. So, in keeping with tradition, we caught up once again with the Infernal Emperor Lepidus Plague to discuss his new tape, the fourth and final demonstration in his tetralogy.
An Imperial Sun Rises
So, what inspired this tape in the first place?
I had the idea to record ‘An Imperial Sun Rises’ since the conception of Kommodus but thought I’d wait a little while before realising it completely. I had other songs and ideas I wanted to conceptualise first. The impetus comes from my admiration and appreciation of Yukio Mishima and his works, which sort of turned into an obsession. I had read some of his novels when I was a teenager but over the past few years delved right in. At this point, I’ve read every novel, short story, and play, published in translation. The narratives, ideas, themes, emotions, etc, within the works, in addition to the personality-cult of the man himself, inspire me immensely. The sheer will-power he had, to transform himself from a skinny, sickly young man into a militia-leading, body-building, Nobel-recognised literary master. And then to die in such a dramatic fashion. Most people in this day and age can barely commit a year of their lives to a hobby or a purpose, let alone have the discipline or passion to disembowel themselves to make a point. Not that I advocate that, I’m just deeply impressed by the dedication. I wanted to make this release in reverence and commemoration.
This tape is the fourth part of your quartet or tetralogy here. How does this tape tie in with the others, which are all inspired by Roman times?
I attempted to interpret the Mishima influence in a way congruous with my previous work. Focusing on might, pride, violence, and death. The compositions, production, track listing, choice of recording a cover, etc, is also similar to the prior three releases. The demo is a bit of a tangential thematic departure, but hopefully still fits.
Where do your interests in traditional Japan come from?
I spent my childhood in Japan. My father got a good job in Tokyo, and so the family moved from Australia. Obviously being young there’s a lot that goes over your head, but I feel the connection obviously started there. My Nonno (Italian grandfather) was in the Australian army, stationed in the Pacific, during WW2, so I grew up listening to his stories as well. Further, I’m part of the generation raised on Japanese cartoons, video games, etc.
This recording is rife with great riffs and parts, and the opening instrumental is my favorite opener of yours yet. Where did inspiration for “Where Divine Wind Blows” come from?
Just another acoustic idea I came up with. Imagining the spirits of ancient warriors and their successors, kamikaze pilots, ascending to a realm of peace after a chaotic and violent end. Or the subsequent stillness after a great sacrifice.
Did you go harder on this tape than any of the others? This riffs are tougher this time around. What do you think brought this on?
I’m not sure if I went harder. The drums on this release came out fucking crushing and were mixed a lot louder than before. I think that’s what gives the songs the additional testosterone. I was also listening to a lot of 80’s thrash when I composed the songs, so a lot of riff sections are inspired by the likes of the Big Four, which may have also added to the overall hardness.
“Total Cosmic Nihilism” may be your most misanthropic song yet. What’s this song all about?
I feel like I’ve already discussed my general misanthropy at great length. But the song is about there existing no greater reason or significance to life except the will to power. And now more than ever, with rapid global degradation, I feel like it’s important to be strong and see the final hour on top.
Did you pour any new influences into these songs, or did certain older influences of yours rise to the surface for the creation of this demo?
‘An Imperial Sun Rises’ incorporates the prior-mentioned increased thrash-influence and features more ambitious songwriting, though it’s arguably the most black-metal sounding release of mine yet. A longer amount of time we dedicated to writing and recording because I didn’t want to craft a mediocre offering to Yukio Mishima. I also managed some heavier tones through trial and error with gear. And obviously it is the ultimate goal to keep improving, keep writing better songs, and to become a greater black metal musician.
Can you talk about the recording process for this? Have you gotten pretty expert at self-recording by now? What’d you do to challenge yourself on this one, to make sure you were putting forth your best effort?
Unlike the last three demos, there was more time (like two days instead of a half day) in a studio. So I had more gear and better equipment at the disposable to make a stronger release. But at the end of the day, this is just another black metal demo.
So the first 35 self-dubbed copies of this tape took how long to sell out? And what are the details on the GoatowaRex version?
I think like 30 seconds? Ridiculous. People were waiting at the ready presumably. The GoatowaRex version (the main edition) comes out in the upcoming batch along with the LP of From The Ashes Of Empire, the Forest Temple cassette, and a few articles of new merchandise.
Have you been approached by other labels? What keeps your going back to Dani?
Yes I have been. Dani was the first to approach me and has been very supportive so far. I feel as if I should honour the relationship forged, at least until these four demos have been released physically.
You mentioned Forest Temple, which is your dungeon synth project. Can you tell us more about that?
I am enamoured with dungeon synth for many reasons and spend a lot of time listening to it. There’s also so many inspiring projects active like Old Tower, Thangorodrim, Fief, Shadow Dungeon, Roman Master, and Quest Master. I also love the pioneers like early Mortiis, prison Burzum, and Wongraven, and just felt compelled to attempt the style. The limitation of only using a synthesiser and crafting comparatively (to black metal) much more minimalistic music is a welcome challenge and experience.
My project is called Forest Temple. I’ve released a demonstration titled, ‘Twilight Within The Ancient Wood’ which you can listen to and download from [the Forest Temple Bandcamp page].
What’s next for Kommodus?
I’m in the final stages of recording three songs for a split with Grógaldr, titled ‘Howling Sanguine Triumph’. The split will be released on cassette and vinyl through Goatowarex.