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Stillbirth From The Psychotic Void – An Interview with Void Prayer’s K (+ Album Premiere)

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Psychosis is misunderstood. Even in my own mind, psychosis is some remorseless killer, or a neglectful sociopath, but it goes much deeper than that. Quick research defines psychosis as a “severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality,” but what does that mean? The DSM’s portrayal of a psychotic episode isn’t always explosive as portrayed by the media, but can manifest as a catatonic state. One’s perception of reality completely breaks down, resulting in a completely inward retreat. Dissociating from reality must be exhausting. Why catatonia? Black metal’s portrayal of psychosis (some remarkable examples: Dark Tribe, Alle Totmachen!, Owlscry, et cetera) is intriguing and enthralling, but always concentrates on the explosive violence of a psychotic episode.

Lo-fi black metal act Void Prayer explore the inward, but still damaged manifestation of psychosis’s lesser-represented trait. Part of the larger Black Plague Circle (Obskuritatem, Nigrum Ignis Circuli, previously Cave Ritual, and more), the Dutch/Bosnian trio’s continuation of the Circle’s raw black metal approach, according to vocalist K, concentrates on mental issues, primarily the aforementioned psychosis. Granted, the morose, emotive black metal found on their debut album, Stillbirth From The Psychotic Void, doesn’t speak to total withdrawal, but its inward, damaged view is just as exhausting. Few volatile moments offer respite from the mid-paced, hazy walls with which Void Prayer surrounds us, and yet the howling dismay found within their violent catharsis offers no rest from their constant, breaking-point tension.

Stillbirth from the Psychotic Void will be released on vinyl early next month by GoatowaRex. Head below for an official, exclusive stream of the album in its entirety and a terse interview with Void Prayer frontman K.

For those unfamiliar with the Black Plague Circle, could you offer some background into Void Prayer and its related projects?

Some of the other main projects in the Black Plague Circle are Deathcircle, Nigrum Ignis Circuli, Niteris and Obskuritatem.

Void Prayer is, in sound, more of a traditionalist type of Black Metal project. Void Prayer is, in a sense, the continuation of Cave Ritual. There are other projects connected to the Black Plague Circle; seek and you shall find.

I imagine maintaining the bands you participate in is a bit of an undertaking, especially with the distance between yourself (Netherlands) and the other members of the Circle (Bosnia). As the majority of these recordings sound like they were recorded live, how do you manage?

Country borders have never been an issue. If you have any heart for this type of music you should go all out to find the people you want to work with. Never settle for less. The core members of our collective see each other multiple times a year. Our collective has only been growing since. Distance is only a problem if you want it to be a problem. Plans to travel even further are in the making. Mind you; we are not rich when it comes to capital; we probably are the poorest bastards around, so we’ll have to save up some funds if we want to finalize are plans. Everything comes with a price and we are willing to work for what we want to achieve.

I guess we could achieve similar goals if it all went through a digital route, but we simply do not want this.

What goals do you guys have for Void Prayer?

Void Prayer is more an outlet for our mental state, it deals heavily with our psyche.

What sorts of mental states? Obviously the music is dark and certainly sounds more, as the album title would suggest, “psychotic,” but could you go more into detail?

I think the music should speak for itself here. We all had our fair share of things to deal with, this album is a direct result of that.

So how did Void Prayer spring from Cave Ritual?

To us Void Prayer is Cave Ritual in a more mature state; like an old man bitter from life. The initial line-up for both projects was the same. The big difference lies in thematics (to some degree) and the fact that the project is more solitary; instead of focussing on splits like we did with Cave Ritual, we will focus on records (and potentially the one-off rehearsal demo) with Void Prayer.

What sort of thematics?

I think that answer is pretty clear, Void Prayer deals with the mental state.

What made you decide to shift to an album-centric approach?

We work together more often, so we have more material.

You run The Throat when not recording as part of the myriad of projects (most of which have tapes on your label). Could you tell us a little about the label?

The label started in 2011 as a means to release personal material and material of those close to me on cassette, all under a unified banner. There was little interest coming from other cassette labels, so I had to do it all myself.

There is certainly a breadth to The Throat’s discography. Along with your own projects and those related to the Black Plague Circle, The Throat branches out on a global underground scale, all while maintaining a dark, obscure persona. Obviously you’re picky since running a tape label is time consuming, but are there certain criteria to be met?

This will sound incredibly banal, and it is: I need to like the music. I have released quite a few cassettes of which the sale has come to complete standstill after a while, which is perfectly fine in my book; I liked the music, the artwork and whatever it is said project tried to convey and stay loyal to that.

Some of these artists are obscure on a near impossible level – no contact information, no credits. Are these artists you find yourself, or do they reach out to you?

A combination of both really! Some artists contact me through e-mail or post, some I know in real life, some I know from conversing online or through post. I am always open for demo submissions and have always been very accessible when it comes to The Throat. If more information is needed about a project, or if somebody wants to convey a message to said artist; simply contact me and I will do whatever I can or pass messages on to the artist. Simple as. Feedback is always welcome too.

I never really thought about contacting labels for more information, but I guess that’s resultant of years of intentional vagueness and the cult of anonymity. I might have to turn to that approach in the future.

Are there any releases of which you are especially proud?

I miss the days where people put some effort in the music they liked. I surely did; I spent days finding out more about releases I liked. These days I work closely with a lot of the artists that inspired me to create music, so the effort was surely not in vain. Information is “out there” for those that are interested and want to find it, encyclopedic and archival websites are not always the answer. Sometimes it is as easy as sending a letter. Ask your parents for a postage stamp.

I think I am proudest of the releases where I was not a direct part of; it feels good that artists trust me to release their material.

Follow Void Prayer on Bandcamp.

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