The now-defunct underground label Fallen Empire continued releasing incredible works by killer and unknown bands far and wide well into their final days. Among that bittersweet slew of releases was a demo tape from a new USBM solo artist calling themselves Kostnatění. Their demo was three songs, twenty minutes of maddening, darkly psychedelic, yet irreversibly catchy black metal. Even on Fallen Empire, Kostnatění’s demo stood out as extraordinary and eccentric.
Last week, the artist posted a new track to their Bandcamp page, and you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief. There would be more from this promising band! The project walked out from the ashes of Fallen Empire, and Decibel seized the opportunity to present to our readers an exclusive stream of the soon-to-be(-independently)-released debut full length from Kostnatění.
The artist goes on to discuss how their existential dread “came to a peak in the middle of winter 2018, after [they] had already finished the Kostnatění demo.”
“Sunlight was scarce,” they recall. “I was alone and separated from my friends and family . . . my future and death loomed in my mind constantly. I would feel my consciousness being pulled towards this thought like a black hole, along with the dread and nausea of attempting to conceptualize it.”
From this fixation on death, the artist explains, the idea for the album Hrůza zvítězí was born: “Because of the salience of these thoughts, the theme of Hrůza zvítězí was set before much of the music was written, which is unusual for me—typically, as a music listener, I do not read lyrics or care much for established themes, and in the past my own music has reflected that. The music I wrote while channeling this negative energy was naturally constricting and overwhelming, which pleased me. Even as my mood began to improve (partially due to life circumstances improving and partially due to the writings of Heidegger on the topic of death), I threw myself back into that mental space again and again to write the album, to ensure that the final product communicated what I wanted to express. It was worth it retrospectively, but in the moment, it was hell.”
Pressed to explain the physical process of bringing Hrůza zvítězí to life, the artist writes: “The album was written and recorded from early 2018 to summer 2019 in various parts of the country where I was living. No studios were involved in its creation. Whereas Konec je všude was written in a quick frenzy during one of the best periods of my life in recent times, Hrůza zvítězí was created slowly and subjected to rigorous criticism from myself and close contacts, due to both the mental burden its writing inflicted upon me and the desire to create a truly inimitable work. I know that every band has caught onto Deathspell Omega’s influence on extreme metal and that almost everyone right now is pushing to coax more chaos, more dissonance out of the genre. If I am moving in that direction as well, and I want to be remembered in ten years’ time, there has to be something truly remarkable about my methods. To that end, I believe I have mostly succeeded.”
A bold statement, and yet who can disagree after hearing Hrůza zvítězí?
“I am proud of this release, and I believe it represents the most comprehensive work I have created since I began writing music,” admits the artist. “The process of acknowledging and overstimulating my anxieties through this album has mostly kept them at bay since its completion, and in a sense, releasing it to the world has been like casting them aside (but who can say for sure whether they will not return later in life?). My hope is that whether listeners like Hrůza zvítězí or not, they appreciate that I have worked to make comparisons for this work scarce. There is no dictum to take from the album, only awareness of one’s individual consciousness and sense of self ceasing to exist at the end of life. However, I do hope that those who fear their own death find kinship in this album, my chronicle of wrestling with my own.”