Kosmos Reversum: Hi and thanks for having us on your webzine! So, I started writing the first riffs around January 2017, then I handed over the rough tracks to Frozen, the drummer, who recorded his parts. After that Lord J. H. Psycho stepped in to add his bass lines, vocals, additional guitars and a bit of synth. Finally I mixed and mastered everything towards the end of May 2017. And that's how "Altar of Fear" came to be!
2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Kosmos Reversum: I think the new record is the result of various factors. First of all Lord J. H. Psycho, who is the vocalist but also a multi-instrumentalist like myself, and Frozen on drums rejoined the band. They both played on several older Lilyum albums and there's always been a remarkable chemistry with them. At any rate I'd written the basic tracks before calling them back in, thus the mood of the record was more or less defined, so to speak. But with their talent and flair, they contributed to raise the songs to a remarkably high level. Without them it wouldn't have been the same, they did an amazing job on my guitar riffs! I believe "Altar of Fear" is a truly mature and complete record, you can sense many aspects within it, but the main feeling is primal and destructive. There are some really emotional melodic openings in my opinion, the additional guitars on this album hit the spot and release all their melancholic surge, nihilistic and sick. Lord J. H. Psycho's voice is deranged and overwhelming and Frozen's performance on the skins is imaginative and brutal. This is what black metal must be, for me and for us! The record is quite diffferent from the last releases as first XeS is no longer handling vocals, the drum parts are live once again, and we tried to be less primordial in the preceding records, but I believe we are at our best with this approach, meaning straightforward songs which at the same time are swathed in sinister and evocative atmospheres.
Lord J. H. Psycho: I think my main personal contribution to "Altar of Fear", lyrics aside, was helping shape the album's distinctive sound, which is quite unlike anything we've attempted before. As usual, Kosmos Reversum comes up with the main riffs and basic themes, and then I start working on the fuller arrangements, with bass lines, guitar leads and harmonies, keyboards if we feel like it, and so on. Right away, I knew that this record wouldn't work with excessively intricate arrangements like, say, "Ultimatum" did; on the other hand, I didn't want to have it sound *too* basic and barebones in terms of musical outlines. In short, I wanted it to retain all its primordial aggression but also give it depth and identity without piling heaps on stuff on the songs. That's where I came up with the idea of using subtle but effective details like short guitar or synth bursts, strategically placed filters and effects and weirdly edited sounds (only a handful of those you hear are actually synth-generated, by the way) that drift in and out of the soundscapes, often so quickly or subtly that you will notice only with repeated listens. These are the kind of nuances you'd expect on more complex records, not on a decidedly rawer album such as this one, and I believe this unusual combination helps "Altar of Fear" stand out, and it worked extraordinarily well. It gives the song this uncanny, hallucinatory feeling without blunting the crude fury that propels them.
3.The band started out as groove metal before evolving into black metal, what was the decision behind the musical change?
Kosmos Reversum: In the beginning, and I'm talking late 90s here, I found it hard to find musicians that were truly into black metal, so the only alternative was to quit playing... That's why the band went through so many line-up changes later, and I finally managed to present my black metal tracks to the newcomers, with Lord J. H. Psycho being the first in line. After his arrival the band found new allies like Frozen and XeS, all musicians very much involved in black metal. This finally allowed me to carry on my path in this musical genre.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
Kosmos Reversum: The lyrics all deal with insanity, darkness and some esoteric and spiritual references. We are strongly attracted to the dark side of things and you can notice that both in our music and our lyrics.
Lord J. H. Psycho: The lyrics and vocals for "Altar of Fear" posed a serious challenge to me, I admit. The last time I contributed an album's worth of lyrics and vocal arrangements to Lilyum was "Crawling in the Past", which I still consider a personal peak. I had no idea how I could possibly improve on that, and needless to say I didn't want to "spoil my legacy" with a regression from such a high water mark. Making matters even worse, in Autumn 2016 I'd come down with a severe throat infection which entirely wiped my voice out for months; it was taking me so long to even begin recuperating that I seriously feared my days as a vocalist were over.
I spent weeks listening to the rough tracks (only rhythm guitars and drums) I got sent by Kosmos Reversum, trying to immerse myself in their mood, to "hear" in my mind the instrumental and vocal arrangements I could add to improve the atmosphere, and before too long it dawned on me that since we were making a harsh, confrontational and disturbing record, the only fitting approach was to push myself out of my comfort zone and handle things from a radically different angle, vocally and lyrically. In this respect recording my vocals while still recovering from my sickness turned out to be a bizarre blessing in disguise, as my limited stamina physically forced me to devise new strategies to deliver suitable tones. We also experimented with different production techniques, like the heavy layering on "Alkahest" or the unusual eq settings on "Tomorrows Worth Erasing" and "To Dream beneath Plains of White Ash", although much of what is happening is very subtle in the final mix in order to preserve the basic, aggressive character of the material, like I stated on question number 2.
The lyrics are a considerable detour from my usual style as well, although there are a few like "Voices from the Fire" or "The Watchers' Departure" which show a certain continuity with the way I wrote on previous records. But then there's stuff I never quite attempted before, not just in Lilyum but any other band, like the eerie stream-of-consciousness approach of "Stain of Salvation" or "Tomorrows Worth Erasing", not to mention a piece like "Alkahest" which manages to be abstract and blunt at the same time, almost cut-up writing without actually being such.
Another significant difference is that while "Altar of Fear" cannot be labeled a concept record, I approached the lyrics from a decidedly "album-oriented" angle - that is, I wrote every song with every other in mind, and great attention to the album's general theme and atmospheres was always present. The implications of the album title, as well as the cover artwork, can be seen as a key to "crack the code", and the individual song titles are more important than ever in this respect.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Lilyum'?
Kosmos Reversum: The name "Lilyum" comes from a flower called "lilium", meaning "lily". Flowers can symbolize both happy and extremely dramatic events, like for instance funerals. Many flowers are poisonous as well and can harm with their thorns, for instance, and such ambivalent nature represents my own personality as well as Lilyum's.
6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Kosmos Reversum: We decided not to play live, so I cannot answer. At least when it comes to Lilyum, But we all have or had other projects with which we perform on stage, and I can assure you that our live antics are always unpredictable and rather extreme.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
Kosmos Reversum: No, since Lilyum don't tour, as I stated.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
Kosmos Reversum: We almost always received very good feedback, especially from the press. The albums which have been best received are "Nothing Is Mine", "Ultimatum" and the newest one "Altar of Fear", at least so far. I think the band is a bit underrated, though, despite the excellent critical reception. People are too stuck in their habits and often don't feel like discovering new bands beyond the well known ones.
We have a very good relationship with Infernal Angels's vocalist XeS, who recorded so much good music with us. Anyone who contributed to make this band better will forever be held in highest regard by us!
9.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Lord J. H. Psycho: I am always involved in PHENRIS (symphonic extreme metal; www.facebook.com/phenrisofficial), IN CORPORE MORTIS (black metal; http://www.facebook.com/InCorporeMortis) and ORGIASTIC PLEASURES (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Orgiastic-Pleasures). I have also contributed vocals and lyrics for the debut album of RUST (https://www.facebook.com/RUST-1092967300748171/) and will be one of the members in TÛL's current line-up. Follow us for news and updates!
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Lord J. H. Psycho: We don't have any plans at the moment, but to be honest, we never really had. We can be on ice for months and then record a new album in a few weeks. Nothing is planned, everything is permitted.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Kosmos Reversum: Definitely all genres of metal, but also hardcore, darkwave and Nirvana. A detailed list would turn out boring and ultimately useless; the classics from the 80s and 90s are obviously mandatory, since they are the music I grew up with, so it's kind of inevitable for that kind of influence to creep into our music, even in subtle and twisted ways.
Lord J. H. Psycho: What I listen to is basically down to my mood at the moment, as my tastes are very broad - this week, for instance, some of the records I've been spinning are Autopsy - "Mental Funeral", Van Halen - "Van Halen II", Horna - "Sotahuuto", Yngwie J. Malmsteen - "Trilogy" and The Beatles' s/t white album! How much our listening habits influence Lilyum's material is up for debate, but I firmly believe this common eclecticism helped Kosmos Reversum and me establish a strong and fruitful artistic communication, and inspired us to experiment with some rather unorthodox arrangements and production techniques that allowed us to overstep technical limitations and give our records a more distinctive quality.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Lord J. H. Psycho: To everyone who followed us: we appreciate your interest and support. It's good to know that there are people out there still willing to give a chance to self-produced bands, not backed by labels, agencies and VIP friends - and I don't mean just ourselves, there are TONS of bands out there made of real passionate people, waiting to be discovered by fellow die-hards. The underground will stay alive as long as we all give it blood; everything else is empty words.