Antrisch - Würzburg's Extreme Mountaineers Tell's Fjordhammer About Their First Expedition

 

EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat is the epic debut release from Germany's new mountaineering inspired black metal band, Antrisch. I recently had the pleasure and honour to review the EP recently and was simply blown away at how the band (who only started in 2020) managed to capture the pain, anguish and cold that these early expeditions. In a Fjordhammer first, I have had the opportunity to interview Maurice Wilson [MW] (lyrics and vocals), Robert Falcon Scott [RFS] (songwriting & all guitars) and Игорь Дятлов (Drums) to find out more about this fascinating release. Before we start, a big thank you to Markus Eck over at METALMESSAGE for setting this interview up!

Antrisch - Aufbruchsignale


Interview

I. Hallo! Wie gehts? Tell us a little bit more about who Antrisch are. 

MW: Good day Tom. All well, thanks a lot! Well, first and foremost I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for that splendid review you wrote. Much appreciated, my fellow wanderer! So, let’s jump outright in medias res… 
Antrisch is an Atmospheric Black Metal band founded in 2020 when Robert Falcon Scott introduced to me a five piece EP he’d recently recorded. By sheer chance I had been keeping a five piece lyrical concept about a mountaineering drama in my bottom drawer, which I wrote back in 2014. It felt like fate seemed to thicken and concentrate to this very point and all we had to do is to put our pieces of work together. While Robert Falcon Scott is the musical mastermind, Mr. Шмидт is in charge of everything sound engineering and optimising related stuff. Mr. Дятлов joined the rope party as drummer and my humble self is responsible for the lyrical concepts and all vocals. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Mr. Scott, Mr. Шмидт and myself used to play together in a Pagan Metal band from 2004 to 2011 and Mr. Scott, Mr. Шмидт and Mr. Дятлов are still running a Melodic Death/Groove Metal band, so obviously we’re not what one would call newcomers in the narrower sense.

II. For those that may not know, what does the name Antrisch mean, and how do you put that meaning into your music?

MW: Well I stumbled upon that special term by accident while reading a book by Reinhold Messner, who used it to describe a strange or eerie light. That’s what it basically means: something rather uncanny. It derives from Austro-Bavarian dialect and is also very commonly used in Southern Tyrol. Lyrically dealing with profound emotions like fear of death or loneliness by isolation or mental torture like despair or delusion on the one hand and the most extreme regions and sceneries of the planet on the other hand, that intangible, subtile horror could’t be named any better than Antrisch.

RFS: Based on the story of that album, it was a tough part to build the musical base for a five songs narrative atmospheric Black Metal EP. I have never done this before and it was a very unique time during the composition to create my vision of an icy mountain expedition by only using notes.

III. EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat sees you use a variety of metal styles to recreate the cold and unforgiving atmosphere of the polar caps and windswept peaks, who were the musical influences behind the music?

RFS: In the last decades I’ve listened to a lot of Black Metal bands, I like the roughness and brutalism, but also the ambience they create. I’m also addicted to ambient music in general so I thought it would be a good idea to combine both worlds to create a melodic story over multiple songs. In addition to that, modern 8-String guitars and technical sound evolution offer a lot more possibilities to create the ambience for such a project to me. Except some samples, every ambient part is done with a guitar.

IV. Arctic exploration and black metal, to the best of my knowledge, has never been fused together before. What led you to become inspired so heavily by arctic exploration and then to put those stories with the extreme nature of black metal music?

MW: I’d be rather surprised if there were no other band out there. There’s a few whose focus is on mountains and alpine related issues, but I’m far from well-informed when it comes to the current BM scene. You know, when we put the former band to rest back in 2011 we already had developed a common wish to form a Black Metal project… and we agreed upon the fact that we’re not going to deal with “traditional” BM topics just like satanism, occultism or related stuff, just because we’re not into it and there are lots of bands who are serious about it, so let’s leave it to them. I myself have always been fascinated with the first days of mountaineering in the Himalayan and Karakoram as well as the [often not so] golden age of exploring the world. So for me personally it felt quite natural to embrace those stories. But we’re not limited to arctic ventures or mountaineering pioneer work, we’re about historical expeditions of all kinds. Of course everybody would concern arctic ice tundras and the Himalayan death zone as obvious BM-fitting topics, but there’s a lot more to tell about - just consider the exploring of the jungles and deserts. There’s a lot of horror lurking out there…

RFS: The term expedition itself gives a rough and intuitive picture of discovering the unknown and facing the extreme. Especially in the mountains you have deadly conditions and environments. Therefore, Black Metal is our way of choice to express this.

V. EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat captures the human survival instinct in a very enigmatic way, in some areas it feels like there is a slither of hope, in others pure anguish. How did you manage to balance such a complex range of emotions in your music? 

MW: Since I can only relate to the lyrical side of Antrisch, I’m going to narrow my answer to that. Due to the fact that this story was written long before Antrisch and its concept was brought to light, it is a pure fictional one. I read some books back then that inspired me to write a story mingling all the impressions I summoned. So you can find references and allusions to Mallory, Whymper, Buhl and even Messner, if you’re eager to find them. I also handled some personal mountaineering experiences, which are on a much lower level of course, but helped me a lot in finding a proper way to express certain emotions. Furthermore I must confess that I’ve always been obsessed with enigmatic lyrics.

RFS: To my mind, the balance between blast-beat-supported riffs and tranquil ambient parts is essential to build a story base. The music has to be as narrative as the lyrics. Both together form this kind of ambience you mentioned. There is no recipe or blue print for it. 

VI. The EP cover sees you use a screenshot from Hans Ertl’s 1953 documentary film Nanga Parbat. Why did you choose that image in particular to represent your songs? Do you see  something of yourselves in the silhouetted figures? 

MW: The Nanga Parbat seems to be the linchpin of all [German] mountaineering dramas and it is linked to eagerness, hybris, burning ambition, personal loss and death. The mountain itself is only a mountain, but man brought all the tragedy and anguish with him and its Rupal Face has become a projection screen for the whole range of human imagination and emotion. That’s our overall concept: the heights of the world and the depths of man. Moreover Ertl’s use of light and shadows in that scene abstracts the rope party to mere moving shades or spectres which is a very artistic and even philosophical approach. Of course one could also interpret these silhouettes as the members of Antrisch, but that’s exactly the point with these shades: they’re kind of universal - and so is the range of emotions we’re dealing with.

VII. My personal favourite song on the EP is 'Stirnschlag',  the dark ambient section with Maurice’s vocals is haunting. These more atmospheric sections appear a couple of times in the EP and sound like individual extracts or representations of an exploration log, is that something you were aiming for? 

MW: Most definitely. Thanks, by the way. These narrative parts are an inherent part of Antrisch’s songs and will be kept throughout all forthcoming expeditions. However, these parts are not always written in the narrator’s perspective, sometimes it’s the character itself who comments, summarises or even contradicts. I’m pretty aware that using German language for my lyrics gives all non-German-speakers quite a hard time, but for this project it was out of the question what language to use.

VIII. 'Firnfeldkonfrontation' is unique on the EP for its more progressive metal vibe. How did this song come to have such infectious grooves? And what is the story behind the lyrics?
 
RFS: This song was the last one during the composition process. I’ve recorded the first riffs for this one and figured out that this maybe feels to groovy or too far away from the other songs. I delayed working on it and after a few weeks I listened to it again and played along with it. The feeling was good and so I brought it to the studio and showed the project to Mr. Шмидт. We decided to do it, as it felt adequate for finishing the EP.

MW: The title is pretty much the same in English, it’s called “Firn field confrontation” [or “Firn field face-off if you’re into alliterations just as myself]. It has a double meaning since that confrontation can be interpreted as meeting of man and snow field as well as man being confronted with his innermost self. It’s subheading “Multiple Einsamkeit” [multiple solitude] is a hint of the many levels and layers of solitude. This text is dealing exactly with what we discussed previously about these shady silhouettes on the cover artwork. It’s about being reduced to your very self while you’re running out of strength and will while being aware that a rest would be an eternal one. It’s that slow-motion ascent on crampons where your biggest enemy is yourself and the existence is being reduced severely - outline to hatching.

IX. Out of all the songs on EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat which one are you most looking forward to people hearing? 

MW: Stirnschlag & Gipfelfieber

ИД: Seilschaftargwohn & Stirnschlag

X. Being English, it would have been criminal for me not to mention Naval Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Is there any plans in the future to do a full concept album on his expeditions to the Antarctic regions? 

MW: Never say never. We’re currently working on Expedition II and I got some more kept in my drawer or on my agenda. Just keep a weather eye on us…
As an aside I’d like to recommend you to enquire about the fascinating story of Maurice Wilson, a most unorthodox, eccentric Englishman who dared the unthinkable and ended fatally in his solo-attempt at Mt. Everest in 1934.

XI. In 2014, an English band called The Defiled (who unfortunately split up in 2016) played a short set on a floating iceberg in Greenland for Jägermeister. Given the themes in your music, is that something you guys would be interested in doing in the future? 

MW: Of course that sounds most suitable for our concept, separate from the fact that I never promote any alcohol. At least one should have dreams…

ИД: If we ever deal with an expedition whose focus is the destruction of nature, this would of course be a good - albeit very meta-level focused - solution to point that out. It would of course fit our concept but in my eyes it would be too much focused on getting attention through the actual act of playing on an iceberg instead of through our music and the fates that are told here. in addition: being sponsored for doing this especially by such a big company is more promo for the company itself. It would feel like cheating your own moral values. 

XII. Going off topic briefly, as someone who has lived in Mönchengladbach and Bielefeld in my younger years, I never quite made it to Bavaria, can you tell us what it’s like in your home town of Würzburg? What places should I visit once I get the opportunity to travel?

MW: Well, it is a bit confusing because only two of us - Mr. Scott and Mr. Дятлов - are currently living in the area around Würzburg. I live in the fringe area of the Bavarian part of the Rhön, a low mountain range which is quite beautiful and predestined for hiking. Places I’d recommend are located far south of my home, because I live in the northern part of Bavaria but I think what everybody got in mind when talking about “Bavaria” is the Alps and perhaps Munich - but that’s another part of Bavaria called upper Bavaria, which is part of the ancient/traditional Bavaria. [the northern part we live in is called Franconia which didn’t belong to “old Bavaria” until Napoleon “gave” it to the Kingdom of Bavaria].
My personal favourite area is Berchtesgaden with its national park, literally my “place to be” when it comes to Alpine hiking. If you’re into medieval allure you should definitely visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the old town is surrounded by a still intact medieval town wall. And for cultural concerns I’d recommend the Glyptothek, the old and the new Pinakothek in Munich. Finally, even Würzburg got its sights. Being there you should pay a visit to the baroque Residence, which bears a great resemblance to Versailles. 

ИД: Besides the Alps I can also recommend Franconian Switzerland. Narrow gorges with beautiful steep walls, which are lined with many castles. The old town of Würzburg has some beautiful corners with historical value that you can not even list. Go on a hike and explore!

XIII. I always enjoy listening to black metal from around the world, who is the number one German black metal band, in your opinion, I should be listening to? 

MW: This question can’t be answered satisfactorily by only naming one band. When it comes to groundbreaking classic albums I have to mention Nagelfar’s album “Srontgorrth”. I recently discovered the band Kanonenfieber, a band perhaps similar to 1914 concerning the topic. If you prefer something related to Thursatru and a grim pagan flavour then you should listen to Nawaharjan’s album “Lokabrenna”. Last but definitely not least I’d like to mention Horn, an outstanding band in every sense.

ИД: The German black metal scene is pretty diverse. Depending on what specific kind of black metal you enjoy there’s a band that’s suitable for you. I specifically listen to ColdWorld, Lunar Aurora and Imperium Dekadenz.

XIV. To finish off, where can people listen to and/or buy EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat when it’s released on 8th April? 

MW: We’ll launch a Bandcamp site at this very date, but you can listen to our EP on each and every possible digital platform [Spotify etc] out there. As well.
Some final words I’d like to say to you, Tom. With regard to your review I was really looking forward to your interview questions - and you did not disappoint. This was amusing and serious at the same time and I want to thank you for the enthusiasm and the grave interest that resonated within your questions.
Let me close this by quoting Wilson’s last words: "Off again, gorgeous day." Cheerio!

Vielen Dank für Ihre Zeit!

There we have it folks! My first foray into interviewing is complete and I hope you enjoyed it. This interview has definitely added some extra layers to my understanding of Antrisch and will help me listen to the EP in a whole new perspective. If you're itching to get your hands on EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat then get yourself over to Antrisch's Bandcamp on the 8th April to grab yourself a digital copy. It has been an upmost pleasure to make this interview a Fjordhammer first. Once again thank you to Maurice Wilson, Robert Falcon Scott and Игорь Дятлов for giving up their time to conduct this interview with me and thank you for the kind words in return, I'm glad I managed to find a balance between amusing and serious! Of course Markus Eck from METALMESSAGE for making it all happen. 




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