ETERNAL HELCARAXE – An Irish Black Metal Assault
The Irish horde known as Eternal Helcaraxe is a great example of how to create atmospheric and melodic black/pagan metal, but for some reason they’re criminally underrated, and after having followed the band since sometime in 2009 I figured it was about high time some of you fuckers out there woke up and checked these talented guys out. I had a nice chat with mainman Praetorian that you can check out below.
Hails brother, how are you? I figured that since quite a few of our readers may not be familiar with the epic musical force that is Eternal Helcaraxe, could you please outline your band history for us and touch a bit on each of your releases?
Myself and Maulgrim started talking about starting Eternal Helcaraxe around the 2003/2004 mark. We began writing for a black metal project based on raw emotion and atmosphere. After trying several line-up changes we both decided to continue as a two piece and keep writing, and in march 2008 released the first MCD entitled "Palest Kingdom". This was just a bedroom recording, so the production is pretty bad, but we were always happy with the songs on it. Our first Drummer Tyrith re-joined the band after this release and we got in Thule on bass. We started working on our second release entitled "To Whatever End". We were all very proud of this release, also lots of great reviews and label interest. Everything just came together for us from then, we completed work on our first full length titled "Against All Odds" which has been released through Abyss Records (US). Since then we parted ways with Thule late last year and in January we announced our new bassist, Slaanesh.
I was listening to Palest Kingdom, To Whatever End and Against All Odds back-to-back yesterday, and as much as I like your first release, Palest Kingdom, you guys have matured a lot in terms of writing and arranging songs. You have always had that epic quality to your songs, but I must say that it`s quite inspiring to listen to just how much you guys have grown since putting out your first demo back in 2008. How do you look back on that very first release of yours?
I’ts hard to even compare the Palest kingdom with the other two, it just seems so long ago since it was recorded. I remember loving working on it, but not really thinking anything was gonna come of it, or it was gonna just be a once off release under this name at the time as it was so hard to get a band going. Once we got it out and started writing for "To Whatever End", it had all changed. We were a full band, a few shows on the cards, and all round busy with it. By this release I feel we really know what we wanted to do.
What was it like back in 2008 when you released your first proper release out? The reason I ask is that the material on that one was composed between 2003 and 2007, so I imagine that you put quite some time and energy into those compositions and that it must have felt good when the actual CD eventually saw the light of day. What was the response to that album by the underground press?
We all lived in different places and had alot going on separately. Our band practices were few and far between. Even though we did put alot of time and work into the songs it was just a very long process for those reasons. Looking back on it now, we should have waited to really give the release its full potential with a studio recording and a full line-up. but if anything, we were just delighted it got the band going and our name out there.
Against All Odds is a very strong release and most definitely your best output to date. It was recorded a few years ago now and I`m curious as to how you view that album nowadays. Any regrets?
Thanks, Our only problem if any is that we took our time a bit too long with the recording and ended up too polished. Its a very small complaint, if we did all over again it would not be much different at all but a little more harsh sounding.
How did it come about that Abyss Records released the aforementioned album and how has you cooperating with them turned out so far?
Abyss Records have been great with the album and all the promotion gone into the release. After the release of "To Whatever End" we set up alot of trades worldwide with alot of labels and distros. Abyss Records happened to be one of them and they got back to us very interested in releasing our next CD through their label. That was that.
Are there any bands in particular that inspire you when it comes to writing music of your own?
In the beginning there were a few bands that we were definitely inspired by, like "Immortal", "Emperor" and "Ancient Rites". Over the years we found inspiration can come from anywhere, and this really broaden your mind as a songwriter.
How do you feel about medieval ambient music and epic movie soundtracks?
Over the past few years there has been alot of great films that have had massive soundtracks even computer games scores that we all love and we have really incorporated it into our music, especially from "To Whatever End" onwards.
What does nature constitute and mean to you and does it serve as an inspiration?
Of course it inspires us. It inspires the whole black metal scene.
Lyrically, many of your songs focus on and thematize mythological and historical subjects, wars, pride, honor, and triumph. Tell me a bit about the lyrical aspects of Eternal Helcaraxe. Is there a message or a theme of sorts to be found in your songs? Is there a philosophy or an ideology present in the music of Eternal Helcaraxe?
The is no particular message in my lyrics, I dont think anyone will ever act on a message within a song. Even with a documentary, people can discover alot of things wrong with the world but will never act on it. Most of the time im not sure where they come from, probably from life experiences. It fits into the overall theme of history and battle nicely.
Does WWII history interest and/or influence you?
Of course, it affected all of Europe, well the world, and it was a massive part of history.
Who comes up with most of the ideas for Eternal Helcaraxe songs?
Usually I come in with the basics of a song with some lyrics down. Over a couple of rehearsals with the band the song comes together musically, I then fit the rest of the lyrics around the finished track, most of the time thats the process. Sometimes other ways work depending on the song.
How often do you guys rehearse and how often do you perform live?
Almost every week. We all live about 15 minutes from where we rehearse. As for playing live, the last year has been pretty quiet for Helcaraxe but we will be aiming to play more shows in the year ahead.
What exactly does your stage name signify or connote from your personal perspective?
The reason behind the stage names was to take out the human element and add a larger than life tone to the overall project.
Speaking of performing live, what`s the Irish extreme metal scene like? Any good bands that you can recommend?
Like every country it has its up’s and down’s, some of the bands I’d recommend would be – Celtachor, Dark-Matter, Legion Of Wolves, Primordial, Mourning Beloveth and Slidhr, their latest album was the best album I’ve heard in years.
Just out of curiosity; what are some of your favorite movies? Could you name-drop a few of them?
Most of my favourites are always going to be the big epic’s. Looking forward to the new Hobbit movie. At the moment I’m mostly watching shows like "Vikings","Game Of Thrones" & "Walking Dead", they have really hit the spot recently.
Is there any chance that we`ll ever see Eternal Helcaraxe tour Europe?
We were making plans to tour Europe so many times before and for various reasons at the last minute it always fell through. It definitely will happen at some stage in the future.
Any final words or insults to the readers of Eternal Terror?
A Cassette of "To Whatever End" has just been release through "Sword Productions" (Portugal) in Co-operation with "Blood & Soil Productions" (Spain). Also out soon, on "Elemental Nightmares" a brand new Eternal Helcaraxe track on a 7" vinyl split titled "Flames In The Darkness". We have also just finished recording the video for this track. Keep an eye out and thanks for the interview!