Today I do dare to introduce you the new for the russian metal fans band CTULU, whose performance I was lucky to see at the passed in the end of April Ragnarök festival (Germany), and which I memorized as one of the most impressive ones. I liked CTULU not only because of their music, which is being mainly based on black metal, goes further in it's own stylistic, becoming quite and quite impressive, and leaving the strict “true” borders behind for it's own good, but else because of their serious attitude to their work, what became obvious to me, as the performance has begun. The visitors of our portal already could see the the photoreport from this event, and, probably read the review for the actual band's CD “SARKOMAND”.
For having the full picture, I offer you to take a part in our talk with one of the guitarists of CTULU – Arne Uekert.
Let's start from the fact, that Ctulu is only going to spread it's claws over the russian fans of metal music;) Can you please tell us the band's history?
Good evening, Natalia!
Well, Ctulu rose from the Northern German seas in the last days of the year of 2004. Since that day, two demos and 2 full-length albums have been released and several stages in whole Europe have been destroyed.
Why did you name the band „Ctulu“? It's clear, that it goes near with the Lovecraft's stories. But what indeed you wanted to say, choosing this name? „we are all Lovecraft's fans and we are going to write songs, basing on his heritage in literature, and Cthulhu is one of the most popular heroes of Lovecraft? So it makes things easier“ or this name was chosen due some deeper reasons as one can say that the Cthulhu is the personification of all the dark and mad, what can happen to a human, and it's more of the subliminal side of Cthulhu, like just showing just bits of it's macabre might and leaving the rest to the imagination of the person? (this would be „real black-metal“ reason;))
The band was called Ctulu due to reasons that cannot be recalled anymore since the founder who came up with this name is no more part of this band. I think Stefan was, as the rest of us is, plainly amazed by the tales that Lovecraft weaved in the beginning of the last century and since Ctulu is one of the highest gods, the name just came up by itself.
By the way, why „Ctulu“, why not as it's supposed to be originally - „Cthulhu“?
At the time when the band was founded the least written version of Cthulhu was "Ctulu". There are several other versions like Ktulu, Kutulu, Cthulu, Ctulhu and so on. But "Ctulu" was easy to transform into a symmetrical band logo, so this was another reason to choose the 5-letter-version.
How do you think which bands/musicians influenced on how sounds Ctulu? Which music do you listen yourselves?
Ctulu's music is inspired by a lot of things - not only music. We listen to quite a lot of very diversed music, not only metal but also hard rock or classical music and different other things. So you can find plenty of inspiration from various genres in our sound. But the foundation of all tracks is guitar-based, melodic and fast Extreme Metal, perhaps quite comparable to old Swedish Black Metal.
Then, depending on the track, we add some acoustic guitars or choirs, Thrash Metal elements or whatever just suits the atmosphere.
And, as I said, there are a lot of other things, too. Words you hear, pictures you see, poems you read or feelings that crawl up in you – all these things form the sound that we create.
Each black – metal band has some opinion about the religion, what would Ctulu say about it?;)
I don't think anyone of us is particularly religious at all. Personally, I think that people should believe in whatever they want, as long as they let the rest of the world do whatever they want to. I'm not against belief itself, not at all. But religions destroy so much and create so little that I just don't get the point of organized beliefs. Just the fact that each religion claims to own the infallible truth is plainly absurd... especially when the infallibe truth is represented by a human like the pope, the most fallible creature on this planet.
I don't get why in the Old Ones' name people have to force others to share their stupid old-fashioned ideas. You can see a very similar situation in the Black Metal scene, where stupid conservative minds try to police the whole scene just because they are not able to value themselves by any other thing than by being the most Black-Metal-nerdy and conservative idiot the scene has to offer. Honestly? I fucking do not get the point!
So, you just released the new album, Sarkomand. Tell us about the working process over it. Which impression this disk makes to you if to compare with previous work ’’Freie Geister’’?
Sarkomand was released at the Ragnarök Festival some weeks ago and was celebrated with a very successful release show. The recording process lasted for quite a long time although we recorded very fast. The drums were laid down in a day's work, in 10 hours almost without a pause and the bass in just 6. But the time between the particular instruments was very long and the mixing and mastering also lasted for a while for we were only able to record at the weekend. We had to lay down the bass tracks anew for we disbanded with our last bassist during the works. All these factors made the production take about a whole year.
For me, "Sarkomand" is in every single way a huge step forward for this band, be it sound, cover artwork, lyrics, the tracks themselves or whatever you want. This doesn't mean that "Freie Geister" was a bad recording, but there were a lot of things that had to be worked on and luckily we were able to fulfill what we expected from ourselves.
Why did you change the label? As far as I know, the „Freie Geister“ was released via Northfire and the new work, „Sarkomand“- via Godeater Records...
Northfire Records closed down and we had to search for something new, so this is plainly it. Godeater offered us a good contract and we decided to produce the album with them.
Any special moments/stories about the recording process, you'd like to tell us about?
Well, yeah, there actually were some of these moments. We almost had a heart attack when Jan (former drummer) told us one day before he was about to fly to Germany (he lives in Athens), that he was struck with lumbago. This means that he was hardly able to move because he was suffering from strong pain in the back.
Then the doctor said: "You shouldn't fly or do something exhausting in the next fourteen days, is there something like that you are about to do?" And Jan answered: "Well, I have to fly to Germany and lay down drum tracks for the new album of my band which means three days of work in a stretch".
So he got a prescription for very strong painkillers and played the whole album "on drugs", haha! And the result nevertheless is outstanding to me since the drum tracks are very diversified and partly also quite innovative.
Tell us/introduce a bit about each song of the album. Also, why you decided to name the disk „Sarkomand“?
The album starts with "Arckanum der Tiefen", a very diversed track about the Deep Ones, known from tales like "Shadows over Innsmouth". The protagonist gets dragged into the many-columned underwater city of Y'ha-nthlei and feels her lungs filled with water, her bones freeze in the ice-cold ocean and her heart struck with fear.
After a short choral intro, "Sarkomand" is up next and it's the fasted track on the album. Sarkomand is a ruined and shuttered city in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, inhabited by the moon-beasts and holding the entrance to the underworld. We chose this track to represent the album title because it's a classical and typical Ctulu track that offers the most often used elements of our art. Like the city Sarkomand lies on top of the underworld, this track (and the cover artwork which features the city) lies on top of an underworld of musical nightmares, so this was a good analogy to the lyrical themes as well.
Also, the Dreamland-theme is one of the two main themes on this album, the other being the ocean. The toneful sound of the word "Sarkomand" also contributed to choosing it as title for the album.
"Sarkomand" is followed up by "Nachtwind", the slowest track of our latest album. "Nachtwind" is supposed to loosen the tension that the listener hopefully feels during the first two tracks, while it's still one of the best tracks of the album (according to most people up to date), very anthemn-like and impulsive. It holds a very dark atmosphere of a protagonist at the edge of death. It's very much inspired by poems of the 19th century, the Romanticism.
The next piece of music is "Traumturm", which is again a very fast track, raising the tension anew. "Traumturm" means dream tower in English and this tower is also located in the Dreamland. This is the first track that was written after "Freie Geister" was released, so it's already 3 years old. We actually played this one at the release show of "Freie Geister" back in 2008, one of my first concerts with Ctulu.
"Gezeitenstürme" takes you to the shores of the sea which you might have seen from the top of the dream tower. The listener is trapped in a mighty sea storm, surrounded by choral chants from afar. This is a very fast track again and contributes to the whole album sound with some very "Swedish" guitar lines and also some Thrash Metal elements.
"Windschreiter" begins very tenseful with a sonorous heart-beat and the panic-filled breath of a young woman, which unite in total terror for the protagonist. We're again in the Dreamlands which are entered by descending the 70 steps of light slumber, passing the gatekeepers Nasht and Kaman-tha and then descending the 700 steps of deeper slumber. The protagonist finds the Dreamlands very unexpected in total chaos, tracked down by the windstalkers Lloigor and Hastur, who enslave the lands' inhabitants. This is one of my favourite tracks, keeping very well worked out guitar lines and drumblasts.
"Blindes Chaos" represents Azathoth, one of the mightiest gods in Lovecraft's pantheon. It's the longest track but also one of the most diversed. Furthermore, it's filled with masses of influence from other genres than Black Metal while it still remains a homogeneous mixture.
"Mondsucht" closes the chapter "Sarkomand" after 45 minutes and it's one of the strongest tracks on the album, at least for me. I don't want to tell anything about this song since something should be saved for the listener's curiosity. All I can state is that the lyrics are inspired by a well-known French prose-poem about the moon.
Band uses the german language in it's lyrics, though, as I know, you, Arne, can manage with 5 other languages, including Polish, Norsk, English, Romanian and Icelandic languages (Wow!). You are also one of the active lyric-writers (together with the other guitarist Mathias). So, why only german? I think it could be extremely interesting to use your abilities for writing lyrics!
From the beginning on, German was the language that was used in Ctulu's lyrics, so I think it would be pointless to change to English. Norwegian lyrics from a non-Norwegian band are very pathetic and "wannabe", at least in my opinion. It's not necessary, like some people think, to be Norwegian to write a Black Metal track, not at all.
For the rest, I have to say that I'm not the vocalist, so I could write lyrics in, let's say Polish. But who should sing them? Plus, I don't really speak a hundred per cent flawlessly nor do I write so. And I'm demanding for myself and for this band that the lyrics, like all other things we do, should be the most professional and the best possible. This could not be guaranteed in any other language than in our mother tongue. I'm hardly able to express a hundred per cent what I mean in German so it wouldn't work in another language.
So you're right, using these abilities would be very interesting, no doubt, but I don't think this would fit into Ctulu's concept and I think that these languages wouldn't really fit. I could imagine using Greek once, but no Scandinavian languages.
Besides the Ctulu, do the other band members are busy with some side-projects?
Yes, Jan, our former drummer plays in two Greek outfits, named Released Anger and Vigour. The rest of us stopped one by one being busy with side-projects to focus the energy on Ctulu.
Who worked over the style of your stage appearance? I mean, what I saw at Ragnaroek festival looks pretty cool: real fire, these metallic letters „C“ - standing symmetrically on the left and right side of the stage, shirts with Ctulu symbolic, boots with Cthulhu Himself, - not to forget suitable light/fog effects during the performance itself...
Haha, I'm glad you liked it. We used a lot of elements for the first time there and it was very exciting for us, too. Mathias (lead guitarist) and I come up with most of the ideas, while the fire pits and metal platforms were the ideas of one of our technical supporters, Lasse, who will take over the bass duties in a few months.
Actually, the idea of the platforms was born at the same time, independent from each other in Mathias', Lasse's and my minds, which is quite a funny thing. We just told each other about the idea and the other one always said "Well I've thought about that, too!" Haha! The uniforms were my idea, the leg pieces were Mathias' idea and I designed them and so on.
I've read about the line-up changes you currently have to face, though there are upcoming gigs... As far as I know you have the session bass-player now, but how are you going to handle the gigs without Rolf, the vocalist? What are his reasons and do you have some candidates for his role already?
Well, we are facing such problems once again. We had a lot of line-up changes in the past and it still continues. But as I mentioned, Lasse will take over the bass duties and we have some candidate for the vocalist's duties as well, but that's nothing to be confirmed already.
Rolf will stay until we found a replacement while Paulo, the bassist will leave in June, 2011. Both musicians' reasons are their growing families. They decided to stop playing in this band because they realized that sooner or later their lack of time would have lead to a problem. We are sad to split with them, especially for Rolf was and is a great vocalist, but in the end, we cannot deny the fact that their statements would become true in a short time.
Thanks for the interview, and some words to Ctulu's and Cthulhu's fans, please!
I'll have to thank you and I hope that we'll destroy Russia sometime in the nearer future as well! Both Ctulu's and Cthulhu's fans shall receive a great THANKS for their support during the past years!read...Discussing...