Interview with Moloch and Mantus of Unholy Baptism by Dale & Patrick late August 2018Ö

An unusually cold wind  has been conjured up in the normally hot and humid Arizona freezing all inhabitants in it's path! That wind is known by the name of Unholy Baptism and brings with it some of darkest and most evil sounds that part of the country has ever heard! Canadian Assault has been dispatched to investigate this strange and malevolent phenomena the Underground Scene needs to know more about! ~ Dale 

 

Hails Moloch and Mantus how are you doing this week? Please introduce yourselves to the readers?

Moloch: Thank you for having us! I am Moloch, lead guitarist and Ĺ of Unholy Baptism.

Mantus: Yeah, thank you! I am Mantus, bassist/vocalist and the other half of Unholy Baptism.

What age were you when first discovered metal and then black metal and who were the first bands that caught your attention? Who are some of your current favorite bands?

Moloch: I first got into metal when I was 12 or 13, I think, and at the time I was really excited about bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Metallica, Kreator, basically anything from the origins of heavy metal up through early thrash metal. Throughout High School I went through a progression into heavier, darker, and more intense music. I listened to a fair chunk of nu-metal and industrial stuff before I stumbled upon Hellhammerís Apocalyptic Raids, and everything changed. My favorite bands now are also some of my favorites from back then, bands like Darkthrone, Behexen, or Craft, but Iíve been blown away by some of the stuff coming out recently from bands like UADA, Inquisition, Panzerfaust, and others who are playing with the genre while still remaining true to itís core.

Mantus: Iíve been listening to metal for a really long time. Of course, the first bands that I really started listening to were Black Sabbath, Metallica, etc., but when I really started listening to it seriously I was pretty obsessed with death metal. I really liked bands like Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Nile and Deicide as I was growing up, and I can admit I got pretty heavily into the nu-metal stuff of the late 90ís as well (Slipknot, Korn, etc.). As time progressed, I found myself gravitating more and more towards black metal, which is pretty much the only genre I listen to anymore. Some of my favorite bands right now are bands like UADA, Inquisition and Marduk, to name a few, and I also like to jump around Bandcamp and listen to some of the newer independent or small label stuff thatís coming out now.

Were either of you big readers of fanzines back in the 90's? If yes, what were some fanzines you enjoyed reading and what do you feel made a good fanzine? Any current fanzines or webzines that either of you try to keep up with on a regular basis?

Moloch: Iíll be honest, itís not a medium Iíve been familiar with until very recently. As a fan of music, Iíve always kept to myself and really only discussed bands with close friends. But, after seeing the reach and positive impact that fanzines can have on new bands such as us, Iíve gained a new respect for the role they play!

Mantus: I didnít really start reading fanzines until they started migrating to the internet, unfortunately. I spent a lot of time reading them when the internet made them readily accessible, but they werenít easy to come by when I was growing up in a smaller Arizona community. With that being said, I am a huge proponent of fanzines and everything they bring to the table, especially when considering underground metal. I donít think thereís a better way to get the information in peoplesí hands!

Unholy Baptism was started in 2008 what gave you two the idea to start this band? How do you feel the bands music has evolved over the years from the debut demo to your newest full-length?

Moloch: Iíve always been in bands! Music is one of the primary ways I have to express myself and work through complex feelings and ideas. When I met Mantus, I knew we had a similar outlook and drive and that we could work well together. Weíve both grown tremendously since our first demo in 2008; as musicians, as artists, and as producers of our version of Black Metal. When I started playing for Unholy Baptism, I could barely string a few power chords together and it was mystifying to me what made a song work. Iím certainly not a virtuoso now, but we both feel competent enough to put our thoughts into songs without losing anything due to inexperience.

Mantus: When our previous drummer and I first started working on the concept, we wanted to create a type of black metal that had the vibe and atmosphere of the second-wave of black metal and bring that into the 21st century. There are very few albums I can name that came out in the 2000ís that really had the atmosphere we were looking for, so that was kind of the concept. As time went on, however, we realized that recreating an atmosphere that had all but dissipated was less our focus, and more bringing a high level of art and storytelling into our music. Black metal has always been Ė for me, anyway Ė the antithesis of death metal, which is what I think drew me to it in the first place.  Where death metal seeks perfection, black metal seeks imperfection; where death metal embraces cold detachment, black metal embraces raw emotion. We wanted to bring that dichotomy to the table and create music with those ideals in mind.

Is an Unholy Baptism the exact reverse of a holy baptism? Not that I assume you went through an actual ritual (though I would like to hear about it if you did) but at what age did your say mental Unholy Baptism take place?

Moloch: Anything can be a ritual, if you imbue it with meaning and purpose! For me, the Baptism began as a teenager and is ongoing. Just paying attention to the world around you, the little games people play without realizing they are doing it, the way laws and customs are structured so as to shape your mind from an early age, it is easy to see how so many are caught in various dogmatic traps, not the least of which is Christianity.

Mantus: I think that the unholy baptism is primarily about opening oneís mind to the sheer vastness of the universe and embracing the darkness both within and without. Our lyrics certainly revolve around anti-Christian themes, but itís not about the fire and brimstone of monotheistic dogma; rather, it revolves around the idea of the multiverse and of the power within darkness. In essence, the unholy baptism is embracing that which monotheistic religion says is evil and being able to see beyond the veil.

Who would you say are Unholy Baptismís biggest influences starting out and have they changed over time? Do you feel staying true to your roots as a band is important?

Moloch: Staying true to the core of your message is important, and usually what attracts you about bands when you start out is something essential that doesnít change. For me, the biggest musical influence starting out was Darkthrone, but Iíve since come to incorporate things Iíve learned listening to bands like Craft, Gorgoroth, Watain, Inquisition, Leviathan, really anything I hear that is able to achieve a really strong Black Metal atmosphere. Iím still a huge Darkthrone fan, so when you hear us play a riff that is long, meandering, and punchy you know where it came from!

Mantus: Yeah, weíre both heavily influenced by Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem, but we both tend to have different influences that we bring to the table. Atmosphere is so important to creating good black metal and that is something we try to have as our foundation, building on top of that as we go. Iím a huge fan of DSBM and I try to bring the emotion-driven musicality that is rife in that style of music, but not necessarily in that exact style.

Particularly in black metal, I think staying true to the bandís roots is critical, as it helps to identify the style of music. At this point there are so many different genres of black metal that it could potentially be tough to understand the platform of the band if the roots arenít obvious. We tend to view ourselves as a traditional black metal band at our core, but we definitely try to bring other elements to build on top of that. The Satanic lyrics arenít going anywhere and we have a sound that is reminiscent of second-wave black metal.

Unholy Baptism is a duo would you prefer to keep it this way or if could find like minded individuals would you be open to expanding the line up? Do you care about playing live?

Moloch: As far as writing music goes, I donít think adding more people is likely to help. If the right person came along, and if our ideas meshed well enough, I could see adding another member, but it would have to be a really good fit. We are interested in doing live music again at some point, but where we are at right now it doesnít make much sense. With that being said, nothing is set in stone and we will go where the band takes us!

Mantus: Yeah, I definitely donít know that adding another writing partner would be helpful for us. We work very well together and adding someone else could potentially hurt our process.  We have had some issues in the past with previous members that didnít work out well, not because they were poor musicians but because they were not on the same page as we were around how we wanted to present ourselves as a band.

So far as live goes, we absolutely want to tour and bring our music on the road! We still would want any tour musicians to embrace our philosophies to a certain extent, but if the right situation presented itself we would not hesitate to start playing live again. We take our music seriously and want to present it as such, as I think audiences would appreciate the level of detail we bring to the table.

Would you two like to find a label to work with or do you prefer to self-release your music? We find Clawhammer PR great to work with, how has this partnership with them worked out for you?

Moloch: Clawhammer has been great, very professional and supportive without trying to micro-manage! We would be interested in a label if they were willing to do the same thing, i.e. treat us with respect and fairness, but honestly it would have to be a carefully negotiated deal. We are already capable of doing most of this on our own, and we are leery of giving up any autonomy to a label just so we can sell more CDís or play on big name tours.

Mantus: One thing Iím realizing more and more lately is how far our reach can go when everything is DIY. Clawhammer has been amazing to work with and we couldnít have put our music as far as we have without their help. It would be great for us to partner with a label that understands our vision and is willing to let us run with it to a certain degree. We would absolutely be willing to start having those conversations!

Why did the band cease to exist for a couple of years and what happened to revive your inspiration once again? Did anything change musically when you returned from this hiatus?

Moloch: It was a confluence of events that led to the hiatus. We had just lost our drummer, we were both in the last year or two of college, and we were also running into a creative wall. Although it felt like a potential mistake at the time, I donít think we would be where we are now if we hadnít taken that time to focus on our lives and regroup later. We both kind of stewed on some ideas and then when we began again we were able to really take our time and develop them, so that we had a distinct sound and viewpoint that we felt we could stand behind.

Mantus: I think that it really helped us to mature our songwriting to take a break, though as Moloch mentioned, it was a bit longer than either of us wanted. Getting both of our schedules to mesh took time and the lack of a space to practice regularly caused some problems as well. Those issues, coupled with the loss of our third writing partner, led to the hiatus. When we came back though, we had a clear vision on the music we wanted to create and how we wanted to create it. That hiatus was necessary for both of us.

Why was there such a long period of no releases after the band was put back together? Was it a struggle to write the material on your debut full-length or did it just come along in itís own time?

Moloch: This occurred for a number of different reasons. Primarily, we were both very busy with school so we just didn't have the kind of free time necessary to put together a full album quickly. Also, because this was going to be our first album we wanted everything to sound just right, because first impressions cannot be remade. As a consequence of how seriously we took it, and because we were learning how to record and produce everything ourselves, it took a long time for everything to come together.

Mantus: We had very limited resources when we came out of our hiatus. It took us quite a while to even figure out a practice space, and a garage is not the best place to get clean signal for recording. In 2015 we ended up finding an office space for rent through a friend and used that as our operations center for recording what would eventually become ÖOn the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss. We had been writing that album for a year or two before we got into the space, but once we started doing the recording process we had to do a lot of rewriting of the music to make everything gel in the right way.

 believe you guys built your own studio and taught yourselves the recording & mixing process. How well did all of this go and was it more challenging than you thought it would be?

 Moloch: It was very challenging, but also very rewarding. When you are deeply involved in every little part of the process, you gain a new appreciation for just how many elements need to come together to make a song sound good. There were days where we went around in circles, trying to figure out how to get a particular effect or how to get rid of specific noise or whatever, and we kept saying "surely there is an easier way to do this!" And then, the next day we finally figure it out and what took hours to achieve before was now a matter of seconds. There are a lot of these little moments, where somebody who wasn't dedicated to the project would have given up, but we feel compelled to make our art at the highest quality possible and with no compromises in vision.

Mantus: Definitely more challenging than we thought it would be. I ended up investing in a Pro Tools rig and figured that out pretty much from the ground up. Our first album was particularly challenging, and there were a lot of things that if I could go back in time and change, I certainly would. Our inexperience and the journey we went on to learn how to produce our own music was also part of the reason why our hiatus was so long. However, once we started working on Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude, there were a lot of things that we figured out and we think our production has increased exponentially. We just worked on a Burzum cover for a compilation put on by Antichrist Metalzine that only ended up taking about two solid weekends of work to complete, so things are getting faster and better every time we work on something.

I believe your debut release, a demo was recorded elsewhere, was this a negative experience you did not want to go back to or did you just prefer having more control over the process? Have you thought about engineering for other bands in your studio?

Moloch: It was a very negative experience at the time, but it showed us how dangerous it is to come into a studio unprepared, and work with people who neither understand your vision nor respect it.

Mantus: There were a lot of issues with that recording, but it gave us an important lesson and really drove us towards doing our own studio work. Iím a bit of a control freak, so I donít like handing something as personal as my art off to someone that doesnít want to understand what Iím trying to express. When it comes to working on audio for someone else, itís so critical for the engineer to communicate with the band to make sure everyone is on the same page and that the music is being presented in the way it was intended.

Actually, I will be opening a studio up in the next few months and trying to work with other bands through my studio. My passion is producing; I like to be on the end of writing the songs, but I also bring a high level of communication and a critical eye to small details. My mixing capabilities are also a strength of mine, so Iím hoping I can bring my aesthetic to other bands as well.

One last question on the recording end of things. Do you rehearse and create material then record it straight away in piecemeal fashion or do you finish the entire album before the recording process begins?  

Moloch: Because we are telling a story, and because we want the entire album to work as a unit and flow from song to song naturally, it just makes more sense to finish all of the writing before recording.

Mantus: We tried a few different writing styles this time around, mainly so we could bring something new to the table, compared to how we used to write. For both our eponymous EP and ÖOn the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss, lyrics were done and the concept was more or less fleshed out by the time we moved on to guitars. Themes and concepts are very important to our style of black metal, and at the time I felt that getting the story situated could get us in a better position to write the instrumental portion of the music. Weíve never written in a way where an album would be just an amalgamation of songs, and I donít think we ever will.

This time, however, we spent a large portion of the early writing stages fleshing out the guitars first. I had the concept for this album in my head already, which both Moloch and I discussed, and we wanted to start writing guitars to better flesh out our concept. We probably had 100-150 riffs that we were hanging on to, and picked them based around what fit our concept at the time. Weíre not sure if weíre going to revisit those riffs or start fresh with the next album; in fact, we may try writing in a completely different way for the next album too!

Volume1 : The Bonds Of Servitude is the bands newest release that will be released in early October. How long did it take to write? This is the start of a trilogy. What gave you all the idea to write a trilogy series? What is the general concept and story line around the trilogy?

Moloch: Our newest album came together very quickly because we had a solid conceptual framework to work with. We were able to turn around from finishing ...On the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss and get this one complete all the way through mixing/mastering in about a year and a half, and I would say it was approximately 50% writing and 50% production. The Trilogy format is a great way to present a story, because it allows a lot of space for ideas and themes to develop. Each album will have an arc, and the entire set will have an encompassing arc, and all good stories have a beginning, middle, and end.

Mantus: We think that the trilogy will be the best way to tell the story we are trying to tell. As the concept stands right now, each album will have their own theme, so each album could potentially stand on its own, but they will also work together to tell the overarching story. If someone comes into the trilogy on the second album, say, they will be able to enjoy that album for what it is, but we think all three albums would be best enjoyed back-to-back, rather than track by track or separately. Moloch and I are huge proponents of listening to an album from front to back Ė neither of us are big on singles Ė because there is an intent behind how the songs are organized.

We donít want to ruin too much of the mystery around the entirety of the trilogy; we want the listeners to experience it for themselves and find their own meaning to the music to some degree. I think the beauty of black metal is that it is such a personal style of music. Every musician and every listener has their own opinions and their own thoughts and value different aspects of the music as a whole. What I can tell you is the concept around Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude. This album is about the opening of the mind and the breaking of chains. The shackles of servitude prevent human beings from enlightenment, chained to the terrestrial, to the mundane. There is an unfathomable vastness to the universe and there is knowledge and power to be had for those who seek it, but the chains must be severed before the enlightened can see beyond the veil.

What are your opinions of the black metal scene since the 90's to present day? Do you think the lyrics and concepts of a black metal band need to have something to do with the anti-christian blasphemies, the Occult, Satanism or some form of darkness and evil?    

Moloch: We are both big fans of the early 2nd wave Norwegian scene, and so we draw a lot of our influences from there. However, there has been an interesting resurgence of Black Metal lately that holds a lot of promise! I think we are seeing a bit of a philosophical backlash to the whole "Black-Gaze" and "Post-Black" movement, with bands bringing back the harsh, raw, and straight forward aggression of early Black Metal while still incorporating more modern elements. I like a lot of bands that don't touch on topics like Occultism, Satanism, Misanthropy or the like, and while they may be considered extreme metal and sound very cool, they just aren't Black Metal to me. As I see it, Black Metal is the mindset, the feeling, and the message of "Everything that Judeo-Christian society tells you not to do, it is because it is enjoyable and liberating. If you bow to their will, you will be a miserable and confused slave for the rest of your life." Any band that rejects this or tries to hide it so they can get played on the radio, is not a Black Metal band.

Mantus: I couldnít have said it better myself.

Thank you Mantus and Moloch for taking the time to fill out this interview!  Please fill us in on future plans, links to your materials and finally do you have any final words for the readers?

Moloch: This is only the beginning! The themes we set up in Volume I will be further explored and fleshed out in the coming years, so we hope you are ready to journey with us into the darkest depths of the human mind and out into the yawning expanse of ancient cosmic nothingness.

Mantus: Thanks for having us on Canadian Assault! Make sure to keep an eye out for Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude, which will be released on October 5th, 2018! You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with news as it breaks and check our website out for more information around the band. As always, support underground metal and Hail Satan!

https://www.unholybaptism.com

https://www.facebook.com/UnholyBaptism

https://www.twitter.com/UnholyBaptism

https://bandcamp.unholybaptism.com

 

 


The Unholy Baptism Discography 

Unholy Baptism CD EP, 2010

...On The Precipice Of The Abyss Full-length, 2017

Volume1: The Bonds Of Servitude Full-length, 2018

 

 


 

 

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