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Rob Reijnders: “I believe we can only develop as beings when we know our darkness and dare to travel there”

De Bladelse death metal formatie Lucifericon timmert al ruim tien jaar aan de weg en na de twee succesvolle EP’s ‘The Occult Waters’ en ‘Brimstone Altars’ werd eind vorig jaar eindelijk het langverwachte debuutalbum ‘Al-Khem-Me’ uitgebracht. Aan de vooravond van de eerste Europese tour van de band samen met de Zwitserse bamd Deathcult in maart / april spreek ik met frontman Rob Reijnders over de totstandkoming van ‘Al-Khem-Me’ en de aanstaande plannen van Lucifericon.

Door: Dennis Ι 10 maart 2019

Hi guys, how are you doing!? We recently reviewed your debut album ‘Al-Khem-Me’ at Lords of Metal and enjoyed your old school blackened death metal approach on it. The album was released in October of last year. How have the reactions been so far, and how is the release doing?
Hi Dennis, all good here, and thank you for sending over some questions. ‘Al-Khem-Me’ was released on October 5 indeed. The plan was for the CD and LP simultaneously, but the pressing plant delayed the vinyl without further notice, by two months unfortunately. The response to the album has been overwhelming really. All very positive and it ended up in a lot of year lists and favorites with zines and whatever else.

Have you sold a lot of copies already, because I noticed the album is sold out already?
All our CD copies got sold in two months yes. And we got some vinyl copies later which we only have a bunch left and will be sold on the upcoming ‘Across the Northern Void’ tour with Deathcult. So our vinyls will most likely be sold out soon too. Please note that only the band’s copies are sold out. You can still order it at Invictus Productions and at several distros everywhere. For the tour we asked and received extra cd’s from the label, but a second press of the CD will be done in a little while.

To be honest, it was about time that Lucifericon released a full length album. You have been writing songs and playing live for almost ten years and only released two EP’s ‘The Occult Waters’ and ‘Brimstone Altar’ before. Why did it take Lucifericon a decade to write and record the first full length?
As previously stated in other interviews and news posts, it was indeed planned to start on a full-length right after ‘The Occult Waters’ release. But after playing a number of shows our first drummer Rob van Gompel (ex-Excision) decided to leave the band in spring 2014. It took a while to find a replacement, but was found in longtime friend Roel Sanders (Inhume, God Dethroned, Asphyx, etc). We had about three new tracks of material which were largely still written with Rob’s drumming style on it. So in order to not have the new drummer record a full album with a different styles mix, we decided it was best to record another EP with those three tracks on it, and afterwards start fresh with completely new material for a full-length, where our new drummer has his own style throughout the entire album. So we rehearsed and played two shows with Roel on drums in March ’15 and we booked the studio for June to record the drums.

Around a month before recording Roel phoned me to say he’s been to his doctor and said he’s starting to have signs of hitting a burn-out. So his doctor advises him to abandon some of his projects. So for sanity’s sake Roel had to leave the band. We were all very disappointed by this news, including himself, but one’s health is first priority. So again we were without a drummer. After Rob left in 2014 and before Roel joined, we had approached Tim Verheijden (Razend, The Covering, Nihilistic etc) if he wanted to help us out. At the time he was unavailable, but this time he said yes. The plan was that he would only help on the recording and play the two or three shows we had lined up, and then we’d see where it would lead. We moved the recording dates for the drums from June 2015 to August 2015 and we started to rehearse with Tim. This clicked very well on both sides and eventually he ended up staying in the band. So ‘Brimstone Altar’ got released on May 1st in 2016 and got very good response overall. After ‘Brimstone’ we played some shows and also started gathering ideas to finally start on our first full-length.

So the whole ordeal of why it took so long, is we lost two drummers one after the other which made it very hard to construct songs, let alone find a suitable replacement. On top of that, we all have serious jobs, and three of our members have families, which mean we have to plan our time to do stuff for the band. Only Alex (Pentacle) doesn’t have a family. So for the outside world it might seem we are lazy asses and being super slow. This is really not the case at all. We have been working behind the scenes to keep this band on track and finding ways to move on. Even though we consider Lucifericon a hobby, not work, we take this band very seriously and we strongly believe in this beast, as our new album clearly shows.

Is the material on this album all new material or is it material gathered over the past ten years?
There is no old material from the past ten years on it. It’s all new stuff. Some material of the ‘Al-Khem-Me’ album originates from 2016, but most of it was written during 2017.

You went to Germany to record ‘Al-Khem-Me’ with Chris ‘Mersus’ Menning at Underworld Studio. Can you tell us something about the recording process?
We only recorded the drums in Underworld studio, and half of the album’s vocals. We also did all the re-amping there and record some guitar effects. All the guitars and bass we’re done at our guitarist’s own Malicious studio, by ourselves (recorded by our guitarist Anton that is). And the other half of the album’s vocals were recorded by Mersus at Malicious studio. So the recordings were done in two studios and recorded by ourselves and Mersus both. The mixing and the mastering was also done in Underworld. We recorded the drums the first weekend of January 2018 in Solingen. Afterwards we started at Malicious studio with the guitars throughout January and February. February into March we did the bass. In April we went back to Underworld studio for re-amping and vocals, and the album got mixed and mastered throughout May, into June. Then it was finished. It took around six months to get it done. But I think the result shows how much time, effort, blood, sweat and madness went into it !!!

You played with Chris in Deströyer 666 where he played drums for many years, so you knew him already. Did this make recording with him a lot easier?
That is correct. After I left Destroyer at the end of 2003 we remained friends (as well with all the others in Destroyer before and after me in the band) and saw each other on a regular basis. I know his taste in music so I figured he would understand very well what Lucifericon needs to sound like. And like you say, we knew each other personally so this would work out pretty well. Chris really pushed us to give our best and he has real good ear of how stuff is supposed to sound and how to keep the music interesting. He’s been a friend and a fifth member throughout this process. Our goal was to keep our own style but recording wise and sound wise it needed to be a step up and I think we succeeded in doing that. We are all very pleased with the end result, including Chris.

Now that the album is a couple of months old, are you still satisfied with the result on ‘Al-Khem-Me’ or are there things you would have wanted differently?
I guess there will always be or one can always find things you have learned during such a process.

So there will always be things you would like to try differently the next time. But we are really pleased with the results and there’s basically nothing we’d like differently about it. Now the task is to make our next album better than this one, which will be quite a challenge…

Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing lyrics?
There’s a number of things I find interesting which can lead to material for lyrics, such as cosmology, science, philosophy, death, all kinds of forms of magic etc. A lot of things really.  I have certain preferences, but I try not to limit myself about what to write about.

What does the opening scream ‘Open The Eye In The Void’ stand for?
Actually it goes ‘Open the “I” in the Void”.  Well, the last track called “Sevenfold” is about becoming a being that is unbound, the author of his own creation, creator and destroyer of it’s or his universe. The ultimate being. To start this journey you must be willing to open your ‘Eye’ in the void, endure all the stages to reach the ultimate goal. If succeeded you have become the “I” in the void. So the album starts and ends with this journey.

What is it that you find so intriguing about Alchemy and why did you choose for the album title ‘Al-Khem-Me’?
It’s the process of change that appeals to me. Scientifically Alchemy deals with the purification of metals. Psychologically/Magically speaking it deals with the purification or developing the self.

Personally I have always felt that the darker sides of the human psyche have largely been ignored. Probably the fear of what one might find there. I believe we can only develop as beings when we know our darkness and dare to travel there. The word ‘chem’ in Alchemy derives from the ancient name of Egypt which was called Khem, meaning ‘the black earth’. Again psychologically speaking ‘the black earth’…Khem , I refer to as our inner dark side. So in my own interpretation of the process of this change, accepting and exploring this darkness is part of it all, instead of ruling it out. So the word Alchemy itself had some interesting facts and I started to play around with it. The album title is the result.

The album cover for ‘Al-Khem-Me’ shows several snakes and other signs. What does it depict?
Although partly explained in the previous answer, here it goes; The symbols at the bottom of the artwork are the most important symbols or better said, ingredients in Alchemy. Mercury, Salt and Sulphur. Altogether they make up the symbol of Azoth, the most high in Alchemy. The snakes are on a journey going through several stages (depicted as dimensional planes), eventually reaching Azoth. So the artwork represents the journey and its goal, so to speak. The four snakes represent every member of the band with its own personal sigil. So we as band are on this journey, but also every one of us individually.

The members in Lucifericon have a history in bands such as Pentacle, Deströyer 666 and Sun’s Blood and Lucifericon’s music isn’t too far off musically from these bands. What did you have in mind when starting this band?
The plan was to start a band with a rough underground edge with one foot in the 80’s and early 90’s and give it our own little twist. I believe we did just that. We also figured it should be sounding dark as fuck. Eventually the music progressed as we became better players but basically we kept that essence alive.

’Al-Khem-Me’ was released on Invictus Productions from Ireland. How did you land a record deal in Ireland? And are they doing a good job for Lucifericon so far?
Myself and Darragh (Invictus owner) have been personally befriended since around 2000-01 or so. So when Lucifericon released its first material we had already been in touch if it was something we could do through his label. We had already signed a contract with Blood Harvest for vinyl earlier, so Invictus could only do the cd. That was fine, but when our agreement with Blood Harvest ended we made the decision to go with Invictus all the way. Blood Harvest have been good with us also btw. But things are working great with Invictus right now and we are very pleased with it.

Lucifericon has played a lot of gigs over the years. Which ones are the most memorable to you?
The ‘Triple Dose of Darkness’ dates early 2017 with In Aeternum and Venefixion stand out. We were on fucking fire that weekend and we had a great time. Another one I remember very well is the one we played on Neurotic Deathfest in 2014 where I had been sick the whole day. I sat outside the venue for fresh air until showtime. When we went on I just thrived on adrenaline that got me through the set. Turned out a good show after all. That’s the dedication and passion for what we do. But really most gigs we’re cool to do and we enjoyed all of them.

What are your plans for 2019 with Lucifericon?
First up is ‘Across the Northern Void’ tour with Deathcult from Switzerland. This will be the first tour for both bands. We’re all looking forward to it. The dates are 29 March till 10th of April. Ten days after the tour, the 20th of April, we play ‘Veneration of the Dead’ festival in Baroeg, Rotterdam. On May 11 we play ‘Graveland’ festival in Hoogeveen, also in The Netherlands. Early September we play Killtown Deathfest in Copenhagen, Denmark. Later in September we play NRW Deathfest in Wermelskirchen, Germany. And there’s one more show booked that we aren’t allowed to announce until sometime in April.

The first pressing of the ‘Al-Khem-Me’ CD went pretty fast, so we’re working on getting a second press done this year. Compared to the LP version we think the layout of the cd could’ve been better. So we’re planning on improving the layout for the second press CD. And there’s cassette releases coming of the ‘Brimstone Altar’ EP and the new album through Dawnbreed records. Limited to a 100 each. On top of that we are planning to record one new track for some release we are thinking about. So keep an eye out on our pages for any news on all fronts.

Any last words for our readers?
Thanks to everyone who has supported Lucifericon in any way. It’s much appreciated. Hope to see you on our upcoming shows. We still have a bunch of stuff available so don’t hesitate to contact us through email or a PM through our Facebook page. You can also order stuff directly through our Bandcamp page (digital albums also available there).

Still available:
– The Occult Waters mcd 5,-
– Brimstone Altar digipack mcd 8,-
– “Snake” design shirt 12,-
– “Snake” design longsleeves 20,- (very few left , lim. 35)
– Brimstone Altar shirt 12,- (very few left, lim 50)
– Logo triangle shirt 15,- (lim. 60)
– Al-Khem-Me shirt 15,- (lim. 60)

Check de onderstaande socials voor meer informatie over deze band.