Outlaw Get Introspective on “Reaching Beyond Assiah” (Interview)
Released in March, Outlaw’s Reaching Beyond Assiah repurposes black metal’s latent intensity and sternness into celebration, but their bandleader Daniel Souza’s outlook on life distinguishes Outlaw from similar melodic black metal acts. He’s frank about his influences and inspirations, but Reaching Beyond Assiah is very much his own work by virtue of his experiences.
At the album’s core sits the idea of active versus passive suffering, a concept with ties to pain treatment. The distinction is, “(Active treatments) rely on the patient to actively participate in these techniques at home away from the clinic. It has been posited that the active approach offers the potential to change physical factors, such as pain, strength, and motor control, and psychological factors, such as self-efficacy and fear avoidance… Passive treatments require the patient to be a submissive recipient of treatment. Passive treatment can help with immediate pain relief, but active treatment keeps the patient functional in the long term..” In Souza’s view, there’s a necessary suffering we must endure to live life, but we are in control of that suffering. Reaching Beyond Assiah asks why would we continue to suffer endlessly through cycles of reincarnation when we could strive towards peace after death.
Read our full interview with Souza below for his thoughts on the occult, how we can transcend our daily lives, and how travel impacts everything.
You’ve bounced a bunch, from living in Italy two years ago to now being in Germany, and originally started Outlaw in your native Brazil. How do you keep moving around so much?
It’s not how, but why. We moved to Italy because there’s a process to immigrate there if you have Italian blood, so my girlfriend and I went to Italy before moving to the Netherlands. Ultimately, Italy isn’t great if you don’t speak Italian. It’s hard to survive and pay bills if you’re not Italian, especially if you have Italian citizenship, ‘cuz they ask you why you have citizenship if you’re not Italian. So we went to the Netherlands ‘cuz we heard it’s an international country. But as an international country, it’s very expensive and hard to pay bills. So we settled on Germany because it’s a good middle ground between price and pay. We’re in the countryside outside of Hamburg.
I’m asking because you write your songs by yourself, so I wanted to know how travel affected your songwriting.
I would say it changed because everything you see and hear will change you. I went to a ton of cathedrals in Italy because I love that art. It began to influence me. In the same way, I got influenced by other things in the Netherlands and Germany. I can’t rationally explain what changed, but I know I’ve changed since Europe. I became a different man than I was when I was 17 years old. Now I’m 25; you change a lot during these times.
When I started Outlaw, I was with my family, but when things change, your outlook on music changes, too. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m moving all the time that’s influenced my music; I’m sure that at some point it is, but I can’t explain it in depth. I think my vision about life has changed, too, because you can’t compare life here to life in Brazil. Also, my goals have changed in the last few years. Everything changed, so it’s natural that my music changed. Everything influences that—the friends you make, where you move, the movies you watch; all of that can change your music, I think.
What’s the significance of “Assiah” in Reaching Beyond Assiah? I know it’s meant as our material world, but what does that mean for Outlaw, since we were already talking about change?
That’s a nice question because when I was creating this album, I spoke with an important friend from another band. We always talk about our visions of life and occultism and how they connect. I felt like I was transcending many aspects of myself while creating this album. I was talking about transcendence with him and looking for an album title, and he came up with Reaching Beyond Assiah. It was perfect.
When we speak about transcendence, people usually only think of the spiritual meaning. You can transcend with meditation, and when you die, you can go to another plane. It’s all about when you die or doing it spiritually. But, I was transcending things every day. Things that I didn’t think I could do, like my mind and my ideas. I was reconstructing myself and who I am now. This title came in that way, and what I talk about when I say Reaching Beyond Assiah, I mean beyond the last level of this world. The absolute nothing. The album is about transcendence in life but also transcendence after death because I think everything is connected. What you do in your life will influence what happens later, in my vision of spiritually. So, Reaching Beyond Assiah for me, was about going beyond the primordial womb.
I’m curious; when you say, “transcending not just the spiritual world, but the world after death, into nothingness,” could you go into that a bit more? What would be the soul’s benefit to transcend into nothingness?
Would you say that you’re happy most of the time in your life? I don’t know anybody that’s happy most of the time.
I’d agree with you.
You have nice things in your life, and you have things that keep you alive, and they make you think, “OK, I have to go on. Tomorrow is another day.” I’m not a depressive person; I’m quite the opposite. I go out all the time, and I’m not on any medication, so when I talk about these things, it’s not because I’m unhappy with my life. I think life is eternal agony. Throughout our lives, we’re always having a little bit of agony. And I think that’s the price of life.
The concept that life is agony comes from the point of view that, “What's the point of transcending and going to the next life?” But, what’s the point of staying here and living, hoping there’s an eternal cycle that you die and then be reborn? Thinking that way, in this concept, why would you do it 100 times? If you think that the world is getting worse every year, I wouldn’t want to be here for the next generation, I wouldn’t have children cause I think the world would be so fucked. I think we’ve gotten to the point where the world is a good place to live, relatively speaking, in that COVID wasn’t as disastrous as it would’ve been 200 years ago, for example. I think we have good things, but everything is getting worse besides technology, so I would not like to be here in 200 years.
But besides the spiritual thing, we don’t know what will happen when we die. I accept this about it, and that’s my spiritual thing. I’m not a religious guy who thinks he has the absolute truth. For me, it’s just the end of agony. The peace of not existing anymore.
If you keep repeating the cycle of living, you may not want to live in the world we predict we’ll create in 300 years. I want to touch upon “Beyond the Realms of God” and the lyrics:
“Through sacrifice and loyalty to my masters
I can be the one that rises
That rises through the existence
And go beyond all the light
Show me the path to the truth
And the light that burns my eyes
Burn everything with your fire
With your blessing and your torch I will be
Beyond Devil, beyond God
Beyond flesh, beyond blood”
It sounds like it’s about religious devotion. However, since you say you’re beyond god—which masters were you speaking about then?
When I talk about the masters, it can be in three different aspects for me. There is this sorcerer, the guy who will teach you about the occult past, there are the spirits that are trying to transcend, and there’s the essence that created everything. You can call it god; you can call it the devil, or anything. When I talk about transcending god, I talk about transcending the idea of god because we have a very limited idea of what’s the god and what’s the devil. Maybe it’s just nothingness. When you go beyond everything, all your ideas of what god and the devil are, you can find the real truth. Maybe that’s the nothingness. This is the point for me where every religion fails, even the Satanist ones, to explain what is beyond. Nobody knows.
Is that what drew you to look more into the occult?
Yeah, because science can explain many things, but it can’t explain what was before the world. It can’t explain what was before the universe and the Big Bang. There are also many things that we can’t explain, and we have to accept that we’re irrelevant. Humans trying to explain the world, universe, galaxies, and shit, but we’re fucking stupid. If we see the size of the universe, we are so tiny. So why would we try to explain anything—Why is the scientist better than the religious guy? Because the religious guy isn’t so smart sometimes, because they don’t study? But what’s the point, you know? It’s impossible to explain everything—You can’t explain the beyond, the nothingness. It’s something that we can’t even explain what it is. We’re never in the nothingness because there are always things around us: plates, bottles, everything,
I went to occultists to explain these things, but then I found hundreds of other questions. Sometimes I can get an answer from someone, but then I think it’s stupid, and I don’t believe it.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you became more interested in the occult after you founded Outlaw, right?
More or less. I was interested in it when I began Outlaw, but I was too young, and I didn’t have much context outside of Brazil. Since I started speaking more English and making more friends, I started to learn more and read better books. It came together after that, but I had the interest initially.
I asked because I’m interested in hearing how your interest in the occult changed Outlaw over time.
OK, in the beginning, my vision of the occult was very different. It was more childish, concerning the evil and bullshit. After some time, I changed my vision and my music, because I wanted to do worship music to the devil in the way that Christians—or anybody who loves something—does. Most black metal bands want to make it in an ugly way. They want to scare people. I tried making it in a different way, with more melody, because I believe there’s a beautiful side of the devil and speaking that way. I wouldn’t describe it as just “the devil,” but it’s the most popular way.
Whatever you call it, I wanted to show it in the way that I see it, which is in a beautiful way. At the same time, it can be an ugly thing, so I have a more dissonant sound, and I have a more depressive sound which is Reaching Beyond Assiah. My music changes with my visions, but it was conscious.
I noticed that change from The Fire in My Tomb to Reaching Beyond Assiah, especially in the production and the melodies.
Yeah, exactly. I don’t believe you can make many new things these days, although some bands can. Off the top of my head, although they’re not my favorite, Zeal & Ardor are doing it in a good way, creating something new, and I respect it. Also, Hariki for the Sky created their own stuff where you listen to it and know it’s them. On the other hand, there are bands I love that aren’t doing anything new but they’re great. They’re doing what other bands have done, but in their own way, and I love the way they do it. That’s what I want to do. I want to make music I’d listen to. When you’re not trying to copy, but you’re playing in the way that some people have gone. You’re going in the middle of the path that you haven’t gone down yet,
We spoke earlier about the band’s original vision, so I wanted to ask if Reaching Beyond Assiah is an album you ever thought you could make when you started Outlaw?
(long pause) I don’t know. It’s an album I would’ve liked to create, but I was 16 years old. I’ve always liked this kind of music and bands like Dissection and Watain. I got into it all when I was a teenager and wanted to make something like it, but the album I really wanted to make was my first album. It’s the cliche of the style, but it’s maybe more than what I expected of myself. That’s why I’m always afraid of the next album. I’m not sure of what’s coming, and that’s scary.
What made you want to implement Reaching Beyond Assiah’s main changes–the cleaner production and increased melodicism?
I’ve always wanted clean production, but I didn’t have the budget before. We went to Sweden to record it, in Necromorbus Studios. Nowadays, I have better equipment, guitars, voice, and more experience as a producer. I mastered it in Sweden. It’s always been my goal with music, not to go cleaner, but to step up with every album.
With the melodies, I didn’t come from metal music. I started on classical guitar. I love Beethoven and Bach, so it was natural for me to go this way and put more melodies and orchestration into it. I’m not listening to only black metal, especially now. I listen to a ton of ‘70’s and ‘80’s music, so I’d say some of the riffs, played differently, could even sound like Judas Priest.
What’s one aspect you hope people notice that you’re proud of?
There are some easter eggs —There are some messages that the end is the beginning. The record begins and ends with the same thing. It’s the same intro and outro; it connects the album. There is a connection for this because, for me, this can be the end of the way I started with Outlaw. After this album, I can go another way. So, this album feels like an ending for me. Now I have to go another way with my music. I want to build further and go another way. The end of this album may become the beginning of something new.
Reaching Beyond Assiahis out now via AOP Records.