Cemetery Lights is a one-man occult black metal band It draws from the traditions of the 80’s and early 90’s for musical inspiration, navigating the narrow line between black, death, thrash, and doom metal to create an immersive listening experience.
2.So far this year you have released 2 ep's, how do they both differ from each other musically?
Lemuralia, although thoughtfully constructed, was created with the intention of finally delivering the music to the public after much procrastination. As a consequence of that, four straightforward tracks were selected to record. Interludes or experimental tracks were not utilized. It is important to be succinct when competing for the attention of a new listener. The result was four songs which showcase the atmosphere and power which can be demonstrated with purely metal compositions. Though strongest as a whole, each song could nevertheless stand proud on its own as a representation of Cemetery Lights.
The Church on the Island was crafted with more emphasis on the entire duration of the release instead of individual songs. The music and lyrics were arranged to deliver a story with an exposition (“The Church on the Island”), rising action (“Cemetery Lights”, “Resurrection”, “Necrocacophony”), climax (“Rapture”), and falling action / denouement (“The Bell”). “Resurrection” and “Necrocacophony” are prime examples of tracks which are intended to serve as assets to a plot arc rather than standalone tracks off of a black metal release. Nevertheless, the songs on the album were not composed with this goal in mind (with the exception of “Rapture”, composed as an expansion on the bridge riff from “Necrocacophony”). So, the straightforward compositions on The Church on the Island can stand on their own as well, but are best experienced alongside one-another.
3.The musical project has been around since 2011 but waited until 2018 to release any music, can you tell us a little bit more about the earlier years?
Cemetery Lights was formed as a means of reviving the spirit of the Mediterranean black metal bands (in addition to a few select acts from other regions, such as Samael, Treblinka / Tiamat, Root, Barathrum, etc). The aforementioned acts may vary in execution, but compliment one-another well in essence. 2011 and 2012 were spent with a lot of leisure time to compose, so most of the material dates from those years. Special care was taken to preserve riffs and song ideas in case they were needed in the future.
Practices were held with Zealot (drummer of Witch King, ex-Enucleator) during that period. Other interests took precedent towards the end of 2012, so the project was indefinitely put on hold. In 2013 I began learning how to play drums, largely eschewing guitar until 2017. During autumn of 2017 it was decided that Cemetery Lights needed to happen, so guitar began to factor more into my practice regimen. I was presented with a lot of leisure time in April of this year, so I resolved to discipline myself to record the material which had accumulated.
4.Your lyrics cover Occultism, Necromancy and Horror, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in the dark arts and horror?
My favorite tales are those which deal with apparitions (formerly human and otherwise), taboo spirituality, and the clash of those things with everyday life. The elusiveness of the unknown is probably the source of my fascination. However, my approach towards those topics is more that of an academic rather than a practitioner. Lemuralia revolved around ancient Roman ghost stories and folklore, so it ended up being a historical endeavor. The Church on the Island explored the wayward faithful embracing a left-hand path to enact their nihilistic revenge upon their surroundings, so it was a philosophical / theological drama.
No lyrics are penned without an accompanying vision, and presently I have no interest in writing lyrics which serve as snapshots of the macabre just for the sake of giving me something to vocalize. Perhaps that day will come, but presently I resonate much more with a purpose behind the lyrics.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Cemetery Lights'?
The name is extracted from “Freezing Moon” by Mayhem: “the cemetery lights up again, as in ancient times”! Beyond that, the idea of hovering, ghostly flames in a cemetery is very striking. It conjures a simple, yet effective, image for the mind’s eye.
6.With this project you record everything by yourself but also have experience playing with whole line ups, how would you compare the two?
Presently I have no experience recording as a member of a whole line-up. My experience as a live member playing songs which have already been finalized has been extremely positive. The members of Martyrvore were very supportive while I learned the songs and, most importantly, learned how to function alongside other musicians. It can be difficult to schedule rehearsals with other members. That can be a stumbling block to keeping a band active. I have yet to see how composing new songs in that situation will play out.
It seems to be a lot easier for me to be the sole creative force behind a band. I write when inspiration strikes, record at my leisure, and release on my schedule. The burden of being responsible for everything is a small price to pay for autonomy. The only problem is getting a live line-up up to speed with material. Still, that would have to be done at some point with a whole band. Still, I much prefer a solo project with live session members rather than a group project.
7.On the releases you have worked with 'Necrologue' and 'Nuclear War! Now Productions, do you feel both of these labels have been very helpful when it comes to getting your music out there heard?
Working with Nuclear War Now! Productions has been an extremely rewarding experience. Yosuke and his team are professional, respectful, and very easy to interact with. Even before the release of The Church on the Island, having the DIY copies of Lemuralia in the NWN! Shop was a huge promotional boost. How much more is having both releases under NWN!’s banner! Actual press release-level promotion did not start until the reissue of Lemuralia was sent to press, so it is a little early to see how that will turn out. Overall, I am eternally grateful for the resources Yosuke has invested in Cemetery Lights.
“Necrologue Productions” is simply my own DIY label. I designed the layouts, printed the materials, and dubbed the tapes using the tools at my disposal. It has been a positive learning experience so far. Putting the extra effort into manufacturing one’s creation makes for a more satisfactory outcome, both artistically as well as financially. By the time I sold / gave away all of the cassettes I had dubbed, I had more or less broken even with some materials left over as well. I intend to use Necrologue Productions for small projects which may or may not take off. Some Martyrvore rehearsal demos may be dubbed for distribution under it. The internet made spreading the word a lot less challenging than it would have been decades ago. Still, over-saturation of bands means that grabbing someone’s attention is limited. I am quite positive that, had NWN! not taken an interest in Cemetery Lights, I would have many years of tedious promotion to do on my own before reaching the level of people I have by now.
8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
The reception seems positive so far. Lemuralia was uploaded to a Russian forum early on, so that drew in a decent amount of traffic from the relevant regions in Europe. I have spoken with a few fans from Spain, Sweden, Greece, Poland, and Finland. I have not asked for specifics from Yosuke on where he has sent copies of The Church on the Island, but he has stated that the release is nearly sold out.
9.What is going on with 'Martyrvore' these days?
Martyrvore thrives! The unmistakable riffcraft and holocaust terror of Necrochrist (rhythm guitars, founding member) cannot be stopped!!
Following the untimely passing of Reaper (vocals) in early 2016 (“The memory of your name will be carved in the minds of the shadows!”), Terrorizer (lead guitars) chose to leave and focus on Come to Grief. Gemini (drums) was forcefully ejected for failure to conquer his demons. I was recruited to replace Gemini. Charybdis (Angel Morgue, Hiss), a long-time friend of Martyrvore, was recruited for lead guitars but switched to vocals.
Since then, Martyrvore has played a handful of shows in 2017 in support of Psycho, Kill, Nyogthaeblisz, and Malacath, and one show in 2018 in support of Crucifier and Headrot. With our return to the live stage firmly established, focus has been set on recording a new album. Live performances may or may not accompany in the meantime, depending on the opportunity.
10.When can we expect a full length and also where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?
The full-length is presently being worked on. Rhythm guitar and bass tracks have already been recorded. A lyrical concept has yet to be decided.
The majority of the material recorded was written before 2013. The intention is to continue the path established during the initial years of the band, all while being mindful not to repeat what has already been done. New challenges wait ahead, and will be eagerly confronted and vanquished!
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Ah, the hardest question to keep brief! My songwriting influences include the bands from question #3, as well as Spear of Longinus, Akercocke, The Ruins of Beverast, Reverend Bizarre, and Fields of the Nephilim. This ranges from instrumentation (drums, bass, leads) to compositional structure and production.
I consistently have a long list of music that I listen to at once, but here are the highlights:
The Inheritors of Pain by Obsecration (criminally underrated Greek death / black, mandatory for fans of Varathron and Septic Flesh!)
Voice of the Ossuary by Witch King (warring death / black, debut album)
Celaenus Fragments by Fungoid Stream (ethereal yet primordial funeral doom, like cold water on your fingertips)
From the Shadows and The Second Ring of Power by Unholy (off-kilter occult black / doom, the deranged funeral doom doppelganger of Necromantia)
Honar i kroŭ by Krumkač (nationalistic black metal, Romantic and powerful debut album)
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thank you very much for the interview. Nuclear War Now! Productions just released the reissue of Lemuralia on gold shell cassette. A t-shirt featuring the aforementioned cover art and a back print is available alongside it, printed gold on black fabric. Everything looks fantastic! The Church on the Island is still available from myself, as well as Hells Headbangers.
Ghosts of my fathers, go forth!