1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
After a long period of inaction, we're finally back to being a fully functional and productive band. We have enough material written for a new full length album (5 songs, about 35 minutes) and are preparing for recording. We're going to try to record the album ourselves and have some outside help with mixing and mastering. Tracking for the drums should be happening in March, and then everything else finished within the next month or two. Hoping that it will be ready for release this summer. It will be released by Eternal Death on both vinyl and CD. We are also planning on doing a split release with our comrades in Morgirion. Writing for that has just begun.
2.Recently you have released [Live in the Castle of Quiet], can you tell us a little bit more about the release for those that have yet to hear it?
It is the first recording with our new lineup. It has two old songs (one from the last full length and one from the split with Glass Coffin) and two new, unreleased songs that will be included on our new full length. It was recorded live on April 26, 2013 on the radio show “My Castle of Quiet” on WFMU. We are very pleased with both the performance and the production. Even though it was recorded live I think it stands up as one of our best releases. William from “My Castle of Quiet” treated us very well and Juan did an outstanding job with engineering the recording - the guitars sound really massive. Bill from No Visible Scars did a great job with the release of the cassette.
3.The new release was released on Cassette, were you satisfied with the final results and also do you have that this style of music comes out a lot better on tape than it does in cd or mp3 format?
We are very satisfied with the final results of the cassette. I personally find vinyl to be the best format, for a lot of different reasons – sound quality, packaging. I can definitely understand the interest in cassettes given the wide use of mp3s and digital technology and support the revival they have had recently. Definitely more cost effective for labels than vinyl.
I personally have mixed thoughts on mp3s and the internet, but if you want to be a band today that has any kind of audience or interest, use of the internet is mandatory and there's really no point in trying to avoid it.
4.It has been 5 years since the last full length album, what has been going on during those years?
A few months before the last full length was released, our drummer quit the band. We had already become at that time a semi-functioning band because everyone was so spread out (one of the band members was a 6 hour drive from our rehearsal space) and him quitting killed whatever momentum/energy we had. We couldn't find a suitable replacement and just went on an indefinite hold. I ended up starting a side project (Lustrum) and our other guitar player at the time started his own side project (Hexer). During the summer/fall of 2012, a friend of mine (the current drummer) contacted me and said that his main band was going to be on hold for a while and that he and another member of the band wanted to join One Master and get it functioning again. He's a great drummer and good friend so it was an easy choice. We ended up playing one show with this lineup in late 2012, but then our other guitar player moved to Iceland. We finally had a fully functioning rhythm section again and I didn't want to let it die, so I ended up asking Doctor Messiah if he wanted to join on guitar. We had been friends for a few years and he went way back with our new bass player independent of knowing me. His black metal project (Ipsissimus) was on indefinite hold because their drummer had moved to Europe and he was interested in getting involved in a black metal band again. At first Doctor Messiah was just a live member because we weren't sure what Phlegethon's future would be, but after he came back to the US it was clear it wasn't logistically feasible for him to be a fully functioning member of the band.
5.Your lyrics cover Occultism, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in the dark and infernal arts?
I see the occult as a metaphorical / mythological way to understand the mind and one's own existence. I take it as a kind of rational approach to the inescapably irrational aspects of existence – a system to both understand and control the fundamental, core parts of the mind, not a religion “worshiping” spirits or gods in any kind of orthodox sense. For instance, I am interested in satan not because I think there is a being living in a place called hell who tried to overthrow god, but because the myth of satan and the archetype it represents exemplifies qualities of the human mind (independence, refusal to blindly accept authority or tradition, development of the individual will) that I want to develop in myself. I “worship” satan in the sense of exalting these aspects of existence. I engage in occult “ritual” in the sense of trying to fully understand the effect of, and control, sensory input to create a feeling that I'm trying to achieve – not in the sense of muttering mumbo jumbo or contemplating my navel...
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?
We have an austere stage presence – we don't really say much and just let the songs stand for themselves. I remember that the last show we played before going on indefinite hold in late 2008 in NYC w/Ipsissimus and Unholy Goatfucker was attended well. In terms of best performance, I'm a bit of a maniac and never really satisfied... I remember a show we played in Providence (I think in 2008) w/Haxen that I was probably as pleased as I can get with a performance.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the next few months?
We have some gigs lined up over the next few months in Boston and New York City. We're hoping that after the release of the full length we can start playing out more frequently and further outside of the New England / NYC area. We have recently aligned ourselves with Signature Riff promotions. Given their successful history and Vinny's dedication, they will certainly be able to help us have more opportunities to play live.
8.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'One Master'?
The source of all authority and value is oneself.
9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
The response we have gotten from our music has been great. There are copies of our releases all over the world - from Europe, to Asia, to South America, to North America. Obviously not everyone gets black metal – and even within the community of people who do, there are different opinions – so it hasn't been unanimously positive, but nothing that is of real value gets unanimous praise from critics.
10.When can we expect a full length album and also what musical direction do you see the band heading into during the future?
Writing for our new full length “Reclusive Blasphemy” has been completed and recording is set to begin in March. It should be released this summer. The songs on the new record are more diverse than prior releases. The input/playing style of the new members has given a new edge to the band that I like.
11.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I think its obvious that we've been influenced by the second-wave of black metal, bands like Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Emperor, etc. We've also been influenced by the Ukrainian sound, especially bands like Hate Forest and Drudkh. There's also an influence from Swiss bands like Darkspace and Paysage d'Hiver. Everyone that has ever been in the band has also had roots in punk music and I think you can hear that, especially in songs like The Destroyer and Intolerance.
In terms of what I've been listening to lately, when it comes to metal bands: Nightbringer (in my opinion, the best US black metal band), Lunar Aurora (only discovered them in the last year or so, have some catching up to do...), Darkthrone (new album is a nice combination of d-beat crust era with some of their late 90s/early 00s sound), Necros Christos (my favorite of the new wave of filthy death metal bands), King Diamond (recently been revisiting the catalog, can't stop listening to Voodoo); Blood Ceremony (newest album wasn't doomy enough for me at first listen but has really grown on me).
When it comes to non-metal bands: Soror Dolorosa (“No More Heroes” was my favorite release of 2013, draws from the best aspects of bands like The Sisters of Mercy and The Cure), Beastmilk (use the best qualities of Joy Division as their source), Of the Wand and the Moon (my favorite neo-folk band); Lustmord (saw live last year for the first time, totally crushing experience).
12.What are some of your non musical Interests?
I am very interested in back country hiking and camping. The atmosphere you get from a good hike / camp can't be matched by anything else. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are a great place to go for this and I am slowly moving my life up there... Doctor Messiah and I share a strong affinity for occult / exploitation movies from the 70s. Definitely have had our share of nights binging on Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Jodorowski, and the like, especially after gigs...
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
“...you think that sin is an esoteric, occult thing?... Yes. It is the infernal miracle as holiness is the supernal. Now and then it is raised to such a pitch that we entirely fail to suspect its existence; it is like the note of the great pedal pipes of the organ, which is so deep that we cannot hear it. In other cases it may lead to the lunatic asylum, or to still stranger issues. But you must never confuse it with mere social misdoing.”
- Arthur Machen, 'The White People'