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Friday, August 4, 2017

Interview: Katharos XIII/Argus Megere


In April, Romanian depressive suicidal black metallers Katharos XIII released their full-length Negativity. Romanian atmospheric black metallers Argus Megere also released their latest full-length in April, it's called VEII. Below you can read the interview DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen did with Fulmineos, leader of both bands.

Hey, how are you?

Hello, well a little bit tired by the heat as I just arrived from my vacation, not eager to get back to work, but a coffee will do and here we are…

You're in both Katharos XIII and Argus Megere, as well as some other bands. How do you combine being in those bands at the same time?

I work based on projects, it is easier this way, for example if I want to do an album with a band (I don’t plan them in advance)…it always starts with an idea based on something… I saw a beautiful tree in the forest, read a great book or stood too much at a line in the shopping mall, really the impulse/trigger can be really bizarre some times , then I select or complete a line-up that is somehow stable in every band I play with, present them the songs or ideas, we do a plan together (and agree – this is very important!) about concept, songs, deadlines for pre-production, studio time, mixing & mastering and then contact the label for a release plan/date and we put to work…it’s simple, like a modern project management…I had tones of approaches in the past(e.g. we all are friends and do everything together, democratic republicanism, encourage initiative and major responsibility for a process etc) and this one is by far the most effective. Also this tool we apply for other activities like tours, video stuff, buy gear or redecorating the rehearsal space etc.

About Katharos XIII, why is the band called this way?

I have a fascination for Cathars and their weird doctrine about this world, I read many books about their heretic behavior, and their major development was in the XIII century, so this is the link between the two entities of our name; “katharoi” means in Greek “the pure ones” so it has this complex approach to find the truth for yourself and inner self, and represent very well the whole idea behind the band.

In April, Katharos XIII released second full-length Negativity, what are the responses you get about it?

Very good, actually I was a little bit surprise to read such great reviews for a material that for me is quite old, but for the public is fresh so it is interesting (the songs were composed and recorded between 2012-2014); to see this duality and it feels good now anyway.

When you compare Negativity to your first full-length Dead Emotions (from 2011), what do you notice the most?

Certainly the sound has another production (not good or bad); the songs are in the same vein more or less but their structure is a little bit differed and also I would point out the lyrics, on “Dead Emotions” were more personal and introverted, on “Negativity” the focus is on so-called outside themes mainly.

Where does your inspirations for Katharos XIII come from?

Movies, books, personal experiences, life in general…

Can you explain what can be seen on the cover of Negativity and what's the story behind it?

It is the “Dark City” that cover us with its “Negativity”…the urban depressing life in the concrete empire, about everything that is “alive” but “lifeless” because of its artificial values, consumerism, everything should be posh, trendy, fashionable…about all this concepts this albums speaks, there is also an allegory and introspection, an analysis to speak the truth in front of the audience, are we the “story tellers” completely pure towards this or we embrace/accept “the capitalist values”?…because we buy from H&M, KFC, Starbucks and we use credit cards, go to Cinema Mall etc…so then are we the trv kvlt misanthropes that we dream of in the black metal underground?! Through the album there is a constant seeking for identity and in the end the listener finds some answers to think of if they are suitable or not.

The covers of Katharos XIII's Negativity as well as Argus Megere's VEII where designed by Alexandru Das, how did you met and what made you decide he was the right man for the job of both covers?

We know each other since many years, we grew up in the same city, we went on college together, played in a band back in the day, so he knows me very well, more or less we like the same music, art, movies…so whenever I have something in mind, I know Alexandru is the right person to visually give life of what I have in my mind and also put his personal input to the whole picture to make something unique.

Another band you're in is called Argus Megere, what does that name means and what made this the right choice?

It is based on a misanthropic concept, to be away from society, black metal as a form of art gives you freedom to be away from all classic responsibilities that you have daily. It blends perfect the ideology with the music, and it represents us really well.

As a root cause “Argus” is a monster with many eyes and “Megere” is an infernal fury…these two elements are like two milestones in our creative process all the time, leading us towards great wisdom and inspiration.

You recently released Argus Megere's third full-length, VEII, how do you look at it compared to A treia cale (2012) or even Solitar in straniu (2006)?

There are different approaches, from technical skills and sound quality there are huge differences, but if you listen them progressively you will find a nice development over the years, we have now better equipment, experience and knowledge to manipulate things in the studio and not be influenced by a producer how to mix and master a product, things are totally different on VEII…a more mature and complex understanding, on the old albums there is a raw and sincere atmosphere in opposition to what we have now, a conscious approach on every aspect of a release.

What is the story behind VEII and it's cover?

The story behind it is the measurement of time, and how the ancient Etruscan people made their rituals to celebrate this, there are some letter-play in the title, and as a result VEII emerged, and this used to be their ancient capital city.

In Argus Megere you sing in Romanian, while in Katharos XIII lyrics are mostly in English, was this something you chose for or did it just go that way?

Well I had to choose as my band mate for over twenty years in Argus Megere, Agerul Pamantului, cannot sing properly in English…on the first demo in ’97 we had some songs in English, but I was doing solely the vocals, then when he decided to do also vocals for the band, we changed only to Romanian to be comfortable for him…but really for me it is ok to sing in English, Romanian, German, Latin…and even a little bit of Czech…

What do you think about lyrics in foreign language versus lyrics in English?

I don’t see any problem, when I was a teenager it was quite fun to translate lyrics from Master’s Hammer, Ulver, Satyricon…when someone is really interested in this topic, the language barrier it’s not something that should be a handicap.

How do you work on new tracks? Do you first write them and later decide for which band, or do you decide first and then start writing?

When I write I kinda already know, because even unconscious the style of composing for each band is different, and in most cases I write a whole concept, even there are sketches and afterwards I keep revisiting the compositions until everything takes shape for a serious recording in the studio. But as I said earlier I write only if I have something to say not because I have to, if there is nothing at the horizon it can take ten years before recordings and then…bum! Like I composed the last Ordinul Negru album, in one weekend at my cabin in Apuseni mountains.

And also I learn that is better to make a preproduction first with all ideas to get a really good view before doing something serious recordings (it saves a lot of money also!).

Can we expect some touring from any of your bands? Maybe a show in The Netherlands?

I really don’t know, it depends on the offers, Katharos XIII these days is very much disintegrated by many personal problems that the guys have in their lives and I don’t know what are their priorities in case we have a touring offer.

With Argus Megere we will do a small tour in autumn with a few selected dates and we have to see if we can arrange something in The Netherlands, as the clubs there are really cool (I played many times with another band I was in, Negura Bunget).

Any future plans you can already tell us a bit about?

With Argus Megere we will release a box set this autumn (our first three albums and demos, unreleased and reworked tracks), and will start planning on an animated clip for a song from VEII-album with a studio from Bucharest (this will be a very big and expensive project) but it will be released next year.

Katharos XIII as I said is very volatile, I worked at nine new songs and we have booked the studio for autumn, we will have to see who will be able to play on it or I will have to hire session members for this new album.

You are from Romania, how is the metalscene there?

With a lot of potential but ruined by the economic and legal instability, for example my band mate, Agerul Pamantului owns for a few years now, Daos Club in Timisoara-a well established club in Romania and Eastern Europe- but recently the legal conditions changed so drastically that he had to reduce his activity because of stupid requirements, or Rockstadt Club in Brasov was closed down and even they did all the papers for the new legal requirement they are still not allowed to open; so in this climate for the bands is very hard to function and play in decent conditions because the very few decent clubs are having so many problems...

Any bands from Romania, besides Katharos XIII and Argus Megere of course, you recommend to listen to?

I like very much the scene with whom I grew up in the nineties, bands like Wiccan Rede, Grimegod, Cronos, Disinter, Psycho Symphony…nowadays Bucovina is the biggest and well established band in Romania, also there are a few interesting ones like The Thirteenth Sun, Dordeduh, Gothic, Indian Fall, White Walls.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac's readers?

Thank you very much for your support and hope to see you soon!


Katharos XIII Facebook
Argus Megere Facebook

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