Death SS mainman and legendary iconoclast Steve Sylvester has been doing his thing in the Italian underground for almost 45 years now. In the ’70s and ’80s, Sylvester played elemental proto-doom with a hybrid of theatrical shlock and genuinely unsettling atmospherics, becoming a cult hero in the process. A few short hiatuses aside, he’s kept at it ever since, releasing new music under the Death SS name on a shockingly regular basis. That music has shapeshifted a few times over the years, and the newest Death SS material is a distant, horror-obsessed cousin of industrial metal. The band’s tenth album, the aptly named Ten, is out today, just in time for Halloween. We’re exclusively sharing the music video for the goth-tinged track “Temple of the Rain.” Watch it below, and read our Q&A with Steve Sylvester.
The video for “Temple of the Rain” is heavy on the atmosphere. What’s it about?
Steve Sylvester: This song talks about sexual magic and, in general, of the purifying power of love as a remedy against the dryness of a life “burned” by pain and adversity. It partly takes up Aleister Crowley’s thelemic mythology with references to Nuit-Isis – / Moon (the feminine element) and Hadit – Ra / Sun (the masculine element). Rain has here a purifying significance of interconnectedness and unity. Each drop can be compared to a soul, to a unique being who, however, when it reaches the ground, merges with it but also with rivers and oceans. It thus represents in some way the collective consciousness and the process of life itself. The sexual and feminine element for excellence, rain (and therefore water) is first of all identified as the primordial matrix of life and regeneration, such as the rain that fertilizes the fields or the amniotic fluid that envelops and protects the fetus during its growth in the womb. The Temple of the Rain is therefore a symbol of transformation and primordial initiation. We tried to represent all of this in our video!
You’re releasing your new album just in time for Halloween. What still draws you to horror imagery after all these years?
Steve Sylvester: The horror imagery has always been the basis of the musical and theatrical concept of DEATH SS. I have always been an avid collector of horror comic books and films and continue to be so today. Of course, there are very few things within this sector that are still able to amaze me, but I think that horror imagery is always a fun and stimulating world for a metal band!
Ten is the tenth album you’ve released under the Death SS name, and you’ve come a long way from the original sound. When you reflect back over the past 40+ years, how do you define the project’s evolution?
Steve Sylvester: Precisely as an “evolution”. The spirit and concept behind our project has always remained the same as it was in our beginnings. Obviously, however, over the years we have evolved our sound, always enriching it with new nuances and musical experiences. It would have been very sterile artistically to always remain anchored to the exact same sound. For me, the important thing for an artist is to grow every time, always keeping your own personal style but without ever having to repeat the exact same formula over and over again….
Watch the “Temple of the Rain” video below.