Today we are pleased to bring our readers a premiere of the debut full-length album from USBM trio Khar Sulde. Titled Black Banners of Cosmic War, Khar Sulde’s opening statement feels like an initial and cruelly sustained blast from a flamethrower more than it does a collection of songs composed by three friends. Out today on Crown and Throne Ltd, stream Black Banners of Cosmic War and read the details surrounding its creation below.
According to RK, one of Khar Sulde’s two vocalists: “Khar Sulde was started when myself (RK) talked to close comrade ZF about possibly doing drums for a new metal project I had conceptualized with EM (my partner in life and art). ZF then told me he had a whole album’s worth of tracks he had written over the years. From there he recorded the entire album instrumentally and then EM and myself recorded the vocals.” RK adds, “ZF is immensely talented and the whole process was unusually easy.”
As for their esoteric-looking band name, RK explains that Khar Sulde “is a Mongolian word for a black war banner. As the band is dedicated to dissecting and interrogating the concepts of war and the spiritual relationship between violent conflict and humanity it felt like a perfect name.”
The Black Banners of Cosmic War
If you’re not able to pinpoint the exact antecedents that Khar Sulde remind you of—well, the band says, that was the whole point. As they explain it, “Black metal as a whole was the influence. We went about creating this album with a great respect for what black metal represents.
“To play black metal is to make a spiritual statement,” they continue. “Our statement deals with the way we as a monolithic human race have processed the trauma of war and war crime. There are a sea of black metal albums but this album is ours.”
Khar Sulde’s song titles evoke detailed and specific images of human cruelty. They say that’s intentional, too.
“To worship a battle is to worship pain and suffering and cruelty and blood,” they say. “There are so many metal songs that try to evoke a ‘warrior’s spirit.’ We are not interested in making a moral judgment in regards to other bands’ statements but for myself and EM, each and every battle is full of people forever changed, spiritually and physically mutilated. History is impersonal but we were interested in focusing on the random soldier or villager who spent 18 hours bleeding out while a boy stole their boots. We choose to try to honor the collective suffering of each person even if that task seems impossible. That is where the spiritual aspect of black metal comes in for us . . . The book The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski was a huge influence. Also Hubert Selby Jr’s book The Room. Both fictional books that reflect pain in beautiful and ugly and honest ways.”
With songs like “Military Ritual to Lord Abaddon With Radiation and Fire (Fat Man/Little Boy)” and for instance, one gets the feeling Khar Sulde are one of those bands who expect their listeners to do some research into the topics their song’s meanings.
“Yes we hope people do some digging,” RK confirms. “The titles are meant to be long. To tell a miniature narrative. What else was the atomic bomb being dropped other than a demonic ritual of pain and suffering? The demons referenced are not meant to be literalized as beings of worship. They are reflections of evil. If humans conceptualized these various demons and gods they must have been intensely afraid of them and all they represented. Therefore the titles and lyrics reference them in ways that shouldn’t be seen as positive (for lack of a better term).”
To represent their harsh and uncompromising black metal, Khar Sulde chose “an image of a statue of the archangel Raphael,” for the cover of their debut album. The band explains: “We found the image in an old book and it simply connected to us. It evoked an image of old churches being crushed in both ancient and modern wars. Broken statues lying in piles of rubble with the skulls of men crumbling beneath them.”
The Black Banners of Cosmic War is available today on cassette from Crown and Throne Ltd, while, according to RK, the “LP edition [will be] out in late August from [mine] and EM’s label Lekh & Ludmila (a sub label of Breathing Problem Productions).”
Moving forward, RK says: “We all have various projects beyond the Khar Sulde. ZF does an incredible goregrind project (think Last Days Of Humanity) called Metrorrhagia and myself and EM do Breathing Problem and the label/sublabel. Hopefully more music under the Khar Sulde name in the future!”
Until then Black Banners of Cosmic War rages like a fire that will burn for a long, long time.