Obey Midnight’s Vile Decree: “Let There Be Witchery” (Interview)
Midnight's Athenar is no stranger to making hard and heavy metal through the lens of the earliest filth that could be described as black metal—and he is remarkably prolific, now approaching the release of album number five, Let There Be Witchery. It's a simple formula that works for the band in the studio and, from what I have seen, blows the doors off in a live setting. Being a one man show, Athenar has had ample time to prepare this new record and hasn't had to deal with getting a large group together during the Pandemic to put this together, making for a rare case of normalcy in these trying times.
Let There Be Witchery is exactly what fans of Midnight expect from Athenar: maximum riffs, darkness and filth, no bullshit. Self-described as “unambitious”, I don’t expect the band's sound to change a ton from album to album. if it ain’t broke don’t fix it: let the evil permeate the surroundings and deliver the sounds to the masses in short, succinct bursts.
We spoke to Athenar regarding what it was like not being able to tour during the Pandemic, what the recording process behind Let There Be Witchery was like, and what getting a live group together to play shows is like. We also spoke about just how dirty something can sound in a different language when compared to how it is in English, color schemes for album covers, knowing what the issues with any of his records are (it's him), The Wizard of Oz, Obituary and what going out on a large national tour means for Midnight over the course of the last 2 years. So read on below for some "szexy" words from one of the wildest guys in the current extreme metal scene.
Since your studio work is more of a one man show, how do you go about filling out your roster with live musicians while out on the road?
The guitar player has been with me in a musical sense since December 2012. It’s more than just a few flunkies, there was a time in 2019 where we had 3 different drummers because our regular has a job that he likes better than playing rock n roll. He could only do a few of them and we had other folks fill in. Our guitarist Commandor Vanik is from around here and was recommended to me as someone who was into it and so far for the last 10 years he has been.
What was it like to get ideas for Let There Be Witchery or what was different about the recording process?
Nothing has really changed in my life since I was 12 years old, besides being a one-man boogie band myself. It is always going to be genuine shit, just me. So I don’t have to worry about the drumming being a bit lacking on a track, because the drumming is a bit lacking on all of them. The process is always there, the songs are written, and I try to just catch them as they come.
Were there any lyrical themes that you hadn’t gotten to explore prior to this?
This one in general comes from true experiences and as dumb writers do, we change words into other words, whatever that technical term is, some twists on words that you already know, maybe to expand my vocabulary or how some of these words roll of my particular tongue.
So is that why I was trying to pronounce the title of your fist single “Szex Witchery” differently?
Another one that comes from life experiences. We were in Hungary and we would see all these areas and the signs would say “Szex” but in thinking of how it was intended to be read was more of a dark laugh followed by “Szex”, it just sounded dirty, grimy, bad and unclean.
Beyond what some might find obvious, what is the story with this album artwork?
The green color, believe it or not, didn't come so much from The Wizard of Oz type witch, it seemed obvious after that. Our other albums had particular color schemes like, blue, red, gray, so this one caught me in the middle of a camo kick. What would be the correct color without being camo?
So you wanted to go Obituary without going full Obituary?
Yeah, I was just talking about that with one of my friends, we just saw this band that sucked but the drummer had this sick camo Obituary hat, so they’re ok.
What do you look for in terms of picking singles to be released?
If it were up to me, I might not even have singles, those are the kinds of things that are left up to the powers that be. Otherwise I might be left in the position of picking one child over the other and the other children’s feelings might get hurt.
Considering all that has gone on in the world in these last few years, is this upcoming tour your first real foray back out into tour mode?
Yeah, we’ve played some of these little dog piss shows, we did our Vegas show and the Decibel Festival, but never a tour. This is the first time that all the shows will be all in a row. 24 or so shows over the course of the month.
Anything about touring in general that you are looking forward to?
We are just happy to get back on the road and play any city. Our Decibel Tour that we did with Kreator, Obituary and Horrendous which was actually our first tour that we did more than 8 or 10 shows. Before that I would never accept anything. People would offer me things, but being that I’m not that ambitious I turned most others down. This new tour has the same amount of dates. We even toured with Obituary aside from the Decibel Tour.
Is there anything else that you want to say about the new album proper?
Buy the record and listen to it, it’s the best that you can do.
Let There Be Witchery releases today via Metal Blade Records.