Anyone who has heard Noctem will know that they are a blackened death metal band in the vein of scene-leaders Behemoth and their intelligent and visceral style has been earning them the respect and adulation of fans both in their home country and abroad, particularly since the release of the crushing ‘Oblivion’ album which successfully demolished any expectations that their previous work might have aroused and cemented Noctem’s reputation as a fast-rising band in the extreme metal scene.
What immediately sets Noctem apart from other bands is the complete package that the band offer, from the beautifully designed CD booklets to the theatrically-applied corpse paint and the mind-blowing videos – Noctem control everything, making sure that nothing inferior seeps onto the market and their quality control and restraint is quite awesome in the most literal sense of that oft-overused word. With the band already developing ideas for the third part of the trilogy, although they are hesitant to talk about exactly what form it will take, Noctem have a strong work ethic and they kindly took time out of their promotion schedule to speak with us about their work to date, their inspiration and their aspirations. Read on and delve into the dark world of Noctem…
SA: Noctem as a band have a very strong visual identity through videos, album art and your own corpse paint – how much work goes into that side of things for the band and how involved are you as individuals with the album art and video side of things?
Beleth: Well, this has a great job, we design our own image and we define the story and concept of our videos. Also we devote our time to more technical stuff of the band that only we can do. So all this work about videos, aesthetic, etc. is great and very inspirational.
SA: Your videos, in particular, are fascinating and high quality – how did you manage to organise these collaborations?
Beleth: We have great friends here in Spain and we know very good professionals. Is not very complicated for us to do a good job with a little budget. Maybe we owe them a few favors, but the result is worth it, for sure.
SA: The latest album, ‘Oblivion’ is stunning in its ferocity – how long does it take to write a Noctem album and who does the bulk of the writing?
Beleth: Thanks man. This album took a lot of our time. We spent a lot of it touring and we hadn’t so much “free space” to compose, but we did it! Usually Exo makes the composition and the voice lines and lyrics are done by me. When is time to compose we close ourselves together for weeks in the rehearsal room and not focus our attention in other things.
SA: What bands inspired you? Do you have bands that you all agree on as inspiration?
Beleth: Thousands, I am a complete metalhead. I’ve always loved bands like Venom, Vader, Behemoth, Septicflesh, Gorgoroth, Blood bath …
Yes of course, we all love Decapitated, 1349, Rotting Christ, Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir (older albums).
SA: What about lyrically? How do you compose the lyrics and is it a challenge composing in a language other than your own?
Beleth: I write the lyrics of the band. I do it from the beginning. No, not really a big problem. I like to take my time to do it, Oblivion took me almost a month.
SA: ‘Oblivion’ is the second part of a trilogy that began with ‘Divinity’ I believe – that seems to be a gloriously ambitious project – what made you decide to develop your albums in this way?
Beleth: Shortly after releasing Divinity and after that it found a wide acceptance among the international press and metalheads we decided that the best way to proceed would be to create a trilogy. This trilogy is an apology about the end of mankind, which finds its end in the last chapter.
SA: Have you already considered themes and ideas for the third album? Would you be able to share any of those themes with us?
Beleth: I have hundreds of ideas for the new album, but these will probably change and only a few will be suitable for the last part of this trilogy. It would be very irresponsible from my side to talk about this right now because are not matured ideas.
SA: How do you feel Noctem are developing as musicians and song-writers?
Beleth: Well, Exo creates the music and I’m responsible for the voice lines and lyrics. We don’t feel that ourselves are having a big change or the band is suffering it, it’s more like a logical evolution, but maybe ehat I’m telling you is something subjective, you know. It’s like having renewed a little the spirit of the band.
SA: As a band you are united in your condemnation of organised religion – a common theme of black and death metal bands, do you feel you have anything new to introduce into the subject?
Beleth: I think I did it. With Oblivion I introduced a critical of the Spanish Inquisition for erasing the Mayan culture from the earth. By burning books and destructing idols, the Inquisition finally erased the Mayan culture. Nowadays you can only find a couple of almost indecipherable codices. The arrival of Catholicism to the Yucatan land… I consider it one of the greatest errors of mankind.
SA: Philosophically black metal seems to veer between opposition to organised religion, the state and the advocacy of extreme personal freedom and a sub-totalitarian nationalistic viewpoint – where do you stand on acts which expound the latter rather than the former?
Beleth: These kind of questions are committed to us, because we have nothing to do with it. We consider ourselves apart from all that shit. We are not a true black metal band. I rarely express our political leanings, we are outside of any religious idea because it’s only for the weak, and the extreme freedom is an utopian idea that today no one believes. I don’t think about all this shit, we are musicians and we are dedicated to do it without providing any kind of social, antisocial or ideological value, but we respect the bands that do it.
SA: Certainly on the international level there seem to be few Spanish acts from the extreme end of the spectrum who have attracted attention – are there many Spanish acts that you could recommend to our readers?
Beleth: Not too many. Apatrida Angelus, Dawn of tears, Forever Slave, Inner fate, Kathaarsys and a pair of extreme metal bands.
SA: With Spain still being a fiercely Catholic country have you encountered any significant opposition to your music?
Beleth: No. We had some problems with promoters and associations by using dead animals or pieces of them in shows, but the church plays no role here. They think that if they don’t attach importance we don’t exist and now is better in this way.
SA: It’s been a while since you came over to your English fans – when can we expect you back?
Beleth: Really don’t know. Some fans wrote us asking for tour dates in the UK and we know they deserve it. In September we will start presenting Oblivion through Europe and we hope to visit your country and destroy the stages as fans expect and deserve.
SA: What’s next for Noctem?
Beleth: Right now we are immersed in the promotional period of Oblivion. In August we have some appearances in metal festivals. After summer we will tour Europe again to present this new album and we are preparing our new video, it will be very controversial and polemic. The band continue working hard, this is our way, we never stop.