Did you hear it? The herald of change in the galloping performance of "Conqueror Beyond the Frenzied Fog," the first single released from Lamp of Murmuur's upcoming album Saturnian Bloodstorm.

The album shows the band, masterminded by enigmatic multi-instrumentalist M., in a step change. Having spent four years cultivating a devoted underground following, generated a mountain of speculation and counterspeculation, and finally debuted their live incarnation in 2022, Lamp of Murmuur are here to show us their assertive side. Saturnian Bloodstorm is a whirlwind of heavy metal and confidence that cannot wait for you to hear it.

We spoke with M. ahead of today’s release of the second song from the album "Seal of the Dominator," hear it below and read on for M.’s most wide ranging interview to date.

–Luke Jackson



Over time, black metal has embraced a number of affectations that bands can use to create distance between them the listener, like droning atmospherics, or raw and obtuse production. Lamp of Murmuur eschews these things in favour of a much more direct delivery focussing on melody, and bringing the listener closer - why does that approach work best for you?

It comes naturally, I was very young when I was introduced to classic rock and heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and they have these incredibly complex and amazing songs. When you finish listening to those songs, you think: I want to hear this again and again and again. They have this charm, these hooks. And I think that flows naturally through me because I've been making music since I was very young; learning how to play guitar by myself, and stuff like that. And I think that has influenced the way the songs come to life when I start writing an album or a demo. I think on my last few albums it has become more evident than ever, it all has to do with those roots in classic rock, enjoying Deep Purple, Dio and Black Sabbath. It fuses with my love for black metal, which is well known for having basically no defined structure, and the fact that most of the bands playing it are making their own rules. But below the skin and the muscle of the project, you have this skeleton of classic heavy metal influences that are always among the other elements that make Lamp of Murmuur what it is.

You've mentioned that one of the characteristics of those classic records is that you get to the end, and you want to press play again. Listening to black metal and extreme music can be exhausting because it demands so much attention and effort, but Saturnian Bloodstorm does tap into that compulsive, replayable quality, it's invigorating!

Yes, this is something that ties in with the themes of the album as well. Up until this point, all my demos and the albums have been about frailty, illness, and things that even now I'm still going through, I'm still suffering and experiencing a lot of pain unfortunately. But I felt I didn't want this album to sound the same as the others, so when I was working on the concept I didn't want to continue feeding this vulnerability. Of course there's nothing wrong with feeling that way, but I felt it was time to make an affirmation of my own existence, an affirmation of my strength and vitality, to make an invigorating record. And I feel this album reeks of arrogance, and strength: it might seem a little bit over the top from time to time, but I think that's exactly what I wanted to do, to make a bigger statement.

In the past, you've spoken about your writing processes as invoking this concept of a greater will, and being receptive to the ideas that come to you. Are you any closer to understanding that process now than in the past?

To be honest, it's still an enigma for me. Making this album, even with all the pain I was going through, I still received all these songs in my head, and I have to find a way to manifest them. I wasn't able to play drums because of the pain in my back that makes me unable to sit down and drum for more than five minutes. But I didn't want these things to prevent me from creating these visions I had: I was receiving all the songs, all these lyrics, all these riffs, and I had to do it, I can't explain it, I could have waited until I was at a better point of my life with my health, but it doesn't work like that, I have to bring this stuff to the surface now or it's going to rot inside me and it's going to hit me back.

It hasn't changed since I started the project, everything is written in a stream of consciousness. The will is kind of complicated to explain, the album touches on it, it also deals with a spiritual concept that I've been evolving for almost eight years now, it's called the seven spears of fever, and it relates to a lot of the practises that I implement in my spiritual and daily life. Right now I feel it's stronger than ever, but at the same time, it's still such an enigmatic figure. I respect it a lot because now that I have a live band, I feel it when we're playing as well, this feeling of being somewhere else while my body is rooted there, it's a very weird sensation. I've discussed this with my bandmates, and they’ve said that while playing they saw me in a completely different state, like it was a completely different person. I'm still trying to decipher and understand it, but it's proving difficult.

In the release notes for Punishment and Devotion it's noted that those songs were received during the recording of Submission and Slavery, but they didn't fit the tone of the record. When these melodies come to you, do you feel like you're controlling their nature?

Most of the time, I sit down and I don't have anything, or I have maybe a riff or two. But then it's just a matter of sitting down, pressing record, and seeing what comes out, everything from the song structure to the riffs, and most of the lyrics are or are written that way. For Punishment and Devotion specifically, those songs came at something of a breaking point in the middle of recording Submission and Slavery. Those two songs on the EP have a lot more to do with this new path that I've been taking, on the split with Ebony Pendant and on Saturnian Bloodstorm as well, this shift towards a more aggressive and invigorating style of black metal. I haven't thought about it like this until you just mentioned it, but those songs have more to do with this new album than they do with Submission and Slavery, like I was already recognizing there was a much needed change in direction.

You've referenced the aggression and the grandiosity of Saturnian Bloodstorm–that extends to every part of the album: like the clarity and detail of the artwork, and the density of the production. What did you change to make the quality of sound match the quality of the overall concept?

I think it had to do firstly with the impossibility of drumming properly, so I had to program all the drums for this record. And having done that I felt there was this discrepancy introduced into the overall sound: the guitars, or my vocals, I felt like something was wrong there, something isn't correct. So I started experimenting with production. And I ended up with this extremely clear, yet a little bit raw sound that has a lot of influence from At The Heart Of Winter by Immortal, but also albums like Volcano by Satyricon, all these albums that appeared during a weird time for black metal, in the early 2000s, when the big bands were going extremely big with their sound, and there were a lot of smaller or clone bands trying to achieve this grand production, but failing in the process. I thought if I could get close to those influential albums that it would fit the album. The clarity of the riffs and everything else I think goes hand in hand with this newfound strength and vigour in the project.

Part of that clarity is also conveyed by the incredible level of detail in the artwork by Karmazid, there's so much to take away from it. The artist tends to work in a two tone graphic style, so what motivated the decision to use a full colour painting?

It has to do with this commitment to evolving and changing as a whole: the sound is different, the production is different, let's fully commit to these changes, and with that came the idea of following those albums that I mentioned: Volcano, At The Heart Of Winter, and some other albums that are legendary now, they all have these iconic artwork, these extremely detailed painted covers, you look at them once and you want to lose yourself in them, try to search out the little details, the symbols, and what they mean what they represent for the album. So I approached Karmazid with the concepts, and he executed them to perfection. I gave him a couple of hints and a couple of references, and he did his magic, he put his signature on it. I'm still amazed at the artwork, I'm extremely proud to to have this piece of work as an album cover for something so important for me, it's a way to detach myself from this notion some people might still have about me as only a niche black metal project, like something that only exists on the fringes of the internet, and nothing more. With all the stuff that's coming, all the upcoming tours and everything that's happening with Lamp of Murmuur, this is a part of the grand statement that I'm here, I'm a force to be reckoned with, everything is part of the same thing, you know?

It feels very coherent, have you been in the room with the original painting?

Unfortunately not. Hopefully I can meet Karmazid at one point and see the artwork in person.

What can you share about the narrative component of Lamp of Murmuur? It's quite difficult to piece together, quite mysterious, but it feels like there are some clues in song titles, artwork etc. titles like "Chasing the Path of the Hidden Master" and "Under Murmuur's Command" hint at a story there.

Yeah, it's extremely important to me. In everything that came prior to Submission and Slavery I've kept it as private as possible because it represents a very delicate and private aspect of my spirituality, and I've never felt completely comfortable sharing that. With Submission and Slavery, and Saturnian Bloodstorm I opted for a more explicit way of expressing myself, coinciding with growing confidence in my songwriting and musical skills as a whole. Even so, it's a very difficult topic for me to put into public, just know that there's an important link between all of my previous releases, which goes through constant refinement, leading to what Saturnian Bloodstorm is right now.

When people read this interview, they're going to have been living with "Conqueror Beyond the Frenzied Fog" for a while, and they're going to be introduced to the "Seal of the Dominator" on the day it's published. When people eventually hear the full album, what might they take away from it?

I think they're going to hear a grand statement of strength, from a band that isn't trying to be nailed down into a specific niche of black metal, and wants to stand on its own creating music that's unique. It can be difficult to put myself in this position because personally, I really don't care that much what people think about my music, in the sense that this is something that I created for myself, this is the music that I want to listen to you know, if other people like it, okay, but not that's not my main goal. I appreciate all the support and all the messages I receive, plus all the interactions I have with people regarding Lamp of Murmuur, and I don't take it for granted, but that's not the aim. So it's weird to ask myself ‘what do I expect people to think?’ Because that's not something I question myself on when I'm creating music.

That self-serving ambition and authenticity is, paradoxically, likely part of what draws people to the band: you're doing things on your own terms.

Yeah, exactly, doing things on my own terms. I'm not trying to tie myself to whatever trends people might be following within black metal, I just want to make the music that I like, that I enjoy listening to. There's a particular song on this album, “In Communion with the Winter Moon”, that's kinda outside the concept of the album. It's mainly an homage to Immortal, very explicitly, because they're a band that I've been listening to since my childhood, and a band I was listening to a lot when I was recording this album. This is something that happens with every release, they get impregnated with whatever I'm listening to at the moment, this time it was all these big and classic heavy metal and black metal bands, but I don't know what the future holds for Lamp of Murmuur, it's still unknown to me, but it will be tied to whatever I'll be listening to in the future: maybe it's an oi album, or maybe it's a folk album, I don't want to restrict myself to anything musically. I think that's something people appreciate, okay, this guy isn't trying to repeat himself, isn't trying only to stay comfortable within the boundaries of black metal, or is unwilling to experiment. It's part of what people loved about 90s black metal bands, this golden era of black metal, this curiosity, bands refusing to tie themselves to an idea of how black metal should sound. Someone like Gehenna, from Norway; they have this character, this individual sound, because they weren't tying themselves to anything, they were just trying to do their own thing.

That's reminiscent, not in sound, but perhaps in the spirit of a band like The Body where you've no idea what they're going to do next. They could turn up with a folk album or a techno album, and have.

Yeah, exactly. That kind of pop album they did as well, with the pink cover. That's something I might dig or might not, but it's something that I respect a lot, because it's committing to their vision and nothing else, you know. And I think that's an approach I also have.

Over the past year or so there have been a healthy number of represses of older Lamp of Murmuur material leading to those recordings becoming more available, and relieving the bottleneck in demand. There's that slightly gnarly side of the metal world in which people are inflating the price of records and trying to gouge each other. Do you try to keep a distance from that?

I try to keep a distance from the record collecting phenomena from the internet. It's a shame that such things happen, treating art like the stock market, it's something that is shameful, and something that I am completely against. Our first pressings were so limited, because of the resources we had at that moment. When the first demo was released we made 150 or 200 tapes, and they took months to sell, then all of a sudden people became interested. We didn't expect that to happen, so we just kept releasing 100 or 200 pieces, then everything got a little bit out of hand. Sometimes I think people forget that small labels are mostly one man operations, putting money out of their own pockets to create art, to bring these pressings to life.

So you do what you can handle, bearing in mind you have to put every single package in its box and ship it, and back then we didn't have the resources to make larger pressing quantities. But now we are at a better spot, with Saturnian Bloodstorm, I'm splitting the release between the US and European territories again, so people will have a better chance at grabbing the record. And hopefully the reseller market is a phenomenon that dies out eventually, because it's extremely shameful how people treat certain releases. I don't want to be part of that, it's infuriating to release a record and see it on Discogs for 200 bucks. We're trying to make it clear to people, if things continue to go well, we're going to continue pressing the records, so we're not unintentionally feeding that market.

It's such an ugly way to approach something that was created in such honesty and openness. Especially when people don't listen to the records!

The record is not to look at, it's to listen to, put it on a turntable, listen to it. And that's it.

You've recently signed with Doomstar for booking European shows. And festival dates are starting to be announced for the summer. How does touring with a full band fit around your earlier rhythm of writing and recording largely independently?

I don't think that will have an impact. Because again, my creative process is not something that I completely control. Whenever I receive new songs, I just record them. Hopefully people from all over Europe will have the opportunity to see the project live. I've received messages from all over the world, since we did the small tour last year, the Roadburn shows and all that, there were a lot of messages asking us to play particular cities. Hopefully, now, I'll have the chances and resources to cover more places around the globe and have people experience the extreme and weird energy that exists in the air when Lamp of Murmuur plays live.

The London show last year was incredible, every black metal band in the UK wanted to be on that bill, and showed up!

Yeah, it was a fantastic show. The atmosphere was great, the bands were great. A year later and we're slowly refining the act as well, we had so little preparation both for the American and European shows, and now that we finally established a group of core musicians that can accompany me in these interpretations, I think the upcoming performances are only going to get better.

It's interesting that your European debut was on that giant stage at Roadburn (excluding the surprise set two days prior), to come here for the first time and have that incredible audience, that big hall experience, how was it?

It was extremely surreal. I remember many years ago, being a kid listening to Wolves in the Throne Room's Live at Roadburn album, and thinking how incredible this festival is and how I would like to attend, just to see the bands. And so years later, to find myself playing the exact same festival, it was literally a dream come true, and it was a magnificent experience. We had some small technical difficulties, but yeah, for that to be the first public appearance in Europe was something that left a very big mark on me. Whenever I'm talking with the Roadburn organisers I thank them for the opportunity to give such a young project the opportunity to play on such a big stage. And that's something I will forever be thankful for, the way we were treated, and the overall atmosphere in the festival. It was a very significant experience for Lamp of Murmuur as a project.


Saturnian Bloodstorm releases March 26th via Not Kvlt Records, Night of the Pale Moon, and Argento Records.

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