Interview: Greed & Rapacity
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You're imprisoned—tied to a jagged stone, bound with the entrails of your own child. A snake is held over your face, venom dripping from its fangs. Your wife waits patiently by your side with a cup to catch the poison. The cup eventually runs over—corrosive venom spatters your eyes and face, and the suffering magnifies a hundred-fold. Existence is a simple cycle of pain and the anticipation of more pain. Left to that fate, to what depths do your thoughts wander?
Such is the tale of Loki and his imprisonment by the Aesir, one of the darker stories in Norse mythology and the lyrical inspiration for Greed & Rapacity's new EP, Loki Bound. Consisting of a single 32-minute track, the EP squeezes every drop of bitterness from the material and sets it to cavernous black doom. Loki Bound marks a shift in tone for the international duo—their first demo, Ergreifer, feels like a completely different band, more in the vein of progressive black metal. Loki Bound drops the tempo, ups the production value, and dives into the atmosphere—chords hang over dead space, subterranean vocals fill the void, and the oppression never lets up. It's a hell of an EP.
I recently had the chance to ask some questions of the band via email. One question does remain, though: who exactly did the answering? Both members are mentioned in third person. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that they were in the same room at the same time—vocalist H. Lauer recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, while drummer D. Nahum still lives in their native Australia. No matter; just another mystery for the ages.
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Loki Bound sounds significantly different than your first demo—what led to the change in direction?
In keeping with the thematic seeds of each release, Greed & Rapacity pushed the boundaries of chaotic and imaginative black metal on Ergreifer, and those of abyssal funeral darkness on Loki Bound. The force of the violent return of the repressed, the guiding law of our creative process, defies any abstract musical classification. We will use any means dictated as necessary to manifest our psychic explorations, wherever they may take us. The transition from Ergreifer to Loki Bound was entirely natural, and we imagine future transitions will be as well.
Do you still consider Greed & Rapacity a black metal band at this point?
Unquestionably, yes. We are entirely devoted to exploring the darkest recesses of history, spirituality, and the human psyche. Thematically there is no question here whatsoever. The musical form reflects the thematic content; therefore Greed & Rapacity is black metal. That we sound different from other so-called black metal bands is part of the answer to a different question.
You’re currently spread over two continents, with one member in Portland and another in Australia. How does that affect the working dynamic?
If you told H. Lauer that his life would change so dramatically a few years ago, he would have laughed. He was ignorant. The ultimate meaning of the move to Portland is yet to be seen; but its lesson has been submission to the clutches of mystery in its fullest sense. As for the working dynamic: on principle we don’t over-think; spontaneity will always be our creative cornerstone.
Any plans to tour in support of Loki Bound?
Not right now. We undertook one live ritual in Australia with a session lineup before H. Lauer’s departure to Portland, performing Loki Bound in its entirety. It was a very special experience for us and left a shell-shocked audience in its wake. Understand: this is an intimidating composition, particularly rhythmically, and its performance exacts a high price. That said we’d be willing to do it again if the circumstances were correct.
Google Translate says the title of the first demo (Ergreifer) translates to “captors” in German. How does the first release relate to Loki Bound? Are there any direct connections besides the thematic “return of the repressed” you mentioned before?
Ergreifer actually means “seizer”. We draw it from Jung, who refers to the overwhelming power of archetypes such as Wodan with that term (“Wodan,” he says, “is an ergreifer of men”). Certainly there is a connotation of the return of the repressed, but in more than the fragmentary and nihilistic vision of the unconscious that Freud proposed. The imagery is less that of a pressure cooker exploding and more that of an avenging force of alien will. There is intention and malice, but also a purging and cleansing.
I’m curious about your use of the story of Loki. Is there any draw to Norse mythology for the sake of black metal tradition, or is it a purely thematic appeal?
H. Lauer has had a connection to Germanic mythology well before he became involved in black metal, and D. Nahum has a strong feel for its motifs as well. Extreme metal is an appropriate milieu to explore the phenomenology of Loki, but the figure has been invoked from a sense of reverence and respect that would remain were the music completely removed. “Greed & Rapacity” is itself a reference to Freki and Geri, Odin’s ferocious wolves.
The question we asked is this: “what was Loki’s experience on the rock, tortured as he awaited Ragnarok, arguably and unjust prisoner?” It is not clean work to empathize with such a figure, but it is necessary work. Peter Carroll tells us that “a God denied is a devil created;” our purpose was less to somehow sanitize Loki or absolve him of wrong-doing than to understand why his purpose ultimately becomes apocalyptic.
Where does Greed & Rapacity go from here?
We are gradually developing a full-length album, which for the most part connects back to the tattered threads of Ergreifer and then pushes harder in the direction of frenzied and chaotic black metal.
Ergreifer explored fundamentalism, fanaticism, Thanatos and symbolic immortality in a brief and often free-associative way. The lyrics and concepts of the full-length mold, sculpt, and direct these ideas into something we believe to be more intimate, embodied or tangible, and ultimately efficacious. In essence, it forms a system of bridges or threads between the spiritual, historical, and personal themes of Ergreifer.
Do you want the listeners at home—or in the event of a show: the audience—to actually enjoy themselves, or do you prefer to be approached from a serious frame of mind? Is there room for “fun” in your music?
There should often be humour in extreme music. There has to be, it keeps us honest and inoculated against unwitting self-parody. Our running joke during the writing of Loki Bound was the hope that the world at large would be simultaneously obsessed with listening to the release, yet horribly traumatized by the experience.
At some level spite, resentment, and hatred can be tremendously pleasurable, even joyous emotions. This is not something that many people are willing to admit. Given the emotional palette of our music, cathartic ecstasy might be unavoidable.
Stream Loki Bound below and purchase the mp3 for $2 or order the cassette from Greed & Rapacity's Bandcamp.