by RS Frost
Formed in 2018, international black metal outfit HAXANDRAOK explore the intricacies of the Draconian Current utilising modes and melodies ringing back to the cradle of civilisation. The band is comprised of drummer Marcel Szumowski (INFERNO, PANEGYRIST) and Chris A. (DEVATHORN, SHIBALBA, ACHERONTAS) handling guitars and vocals, with the guest appearance of Arkhus A. (Devathorn, ARCH DAEVA) on bass.
I made contact with Chris to thoroughly explore the rich musical and ideological landscape of this new project and to gain insight into the nature of the forgotten ways of old.
First things first; after reading through the lyrics for the album, paired with the band and album name, I’ll admit to being at somewhat of a loss. There are numerous references to ancient traditions, both familiar and completely obscure, that it is hard to find an anchor in it all.
- The circle of Haxandraok bears a name crafted and constructed within a certain series of ceremonial practices. The name of the band itself is not just a verbal insignia, but a portal to the mysteries of Haxandraok, set to draw in the listener and induce the trance of our craft. Accordingly, the album was named after a spiritual imprint and vibration. In order to grasp the concept, idea and further meaning of the title, we should first clarify certain aspects of the release; the interwoven roles of the musical and lyrical layers of the album.
Please, clarify away.
- 'KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA' is an unfolded map of magical currents, brought forth and encompassed by the Draconian archetype. Everything is connected and bonded together, forming a totality and a circular experience to the listener that intends to fully grasp the release. Thus, it is vital to approach the essence of the concept, even if several characteristics seem unfathomed, feral and of unascertained depths. If we had to picture and approach the core of the concept, we would say that the ancient locus of 'KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA' consists of a brazen mantra of Qliphothic sorcery and primordial witchcraft. Unto this nemeton to the Other, the art of magia negra becomes a blade, athame and cleaver, reaping the shroud of corpus mundi to unveil the crimson mysteries of hexcraft and necromancy.
That is indeed quite a lot to digest. I’m curious as to how you came to have a vested interest in such a large array of traditions and currents?
- The most honest approach to this question would be that the call has always been there, present and dormant into the layers of the subconscious, since a very young age. Although the criteria and perspectives were absent, the soul of men is a fertile soil for the divine sciences to flourish. The inclinations and tendencies are built upon our approach, our choices and codes, especially regarding the esoteric and the spiritual aspects of realisation. I can still remember the early years of grasping glimpses of the Draconian current into the studies of history and mythology. The conscious dive into the craft and the evolution into practical magical work came quite later, but the first steps are always crucial and characteristic.
I’m going to assume that there is an ideological commonality between yourself and Marcel. How did you come to work together?
- We first came in contact some years ago, being members of cooperating and befriended bands, Devathorn, Acherontas and Inferno. There was mutual respect towards each other’s artistic vision and perspective from the very beginning, so the initiative to form and give spirit, flesh and bones to Haxandraok came very naturally. Our intentions were straight and at the same time very demanding; to channel the inner, primordial esoteric impulse into a newborn musical vessel that would instil the vibrations of multiple personal hermetic practices within the Draconian current. The bond and polarity between us grew stronger by the passing of time and hardships, as the task at hand was very demanding, but in the end, the results crowned the effort.
I understand that you are also responsible for the majority of the artwork attached to the album, in collaboration with Paweł Marzec (KONTAMINATION DESIGN, BLAZE OF PERDITION)?
- The presentation of the first work of Haxandraok was a very crucial point for us. We have cooperated with many great designers and artists in the past, with many of our bands and projects, but this time it was different. Haxandraok held a very significant message and was meant to become something completely different than what we have achieved in the past, a totally new direction in terms of musical and visual result. I am not a professional designer by any means; I just have some experience that helps to achieve a proper materialisation of what was held in mind and soul for the visualisation and art form of the essence of 'KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA', some practical tools to give flesh and bones to our vision. After the artwork was mostly completed, Kontamination Design got the role of forming a professional tone for everything. The choice to cooperate with Paweł was obvious, not only due to his great skill and vision with graphic designs and artwork, but also due to being a wonderful individual with a powerful perception, ideal to handle the unique presentation we had in mind.
Did you know how you wanted to present this album visually from the start? What actually went into the design side of things, and what do you want to communicate with these visuals?
- This is quite complex to answer, since the very vision is never too clear from the start, willingly and purposefully. We knew what was needed and what was essential, but same as with the music, we let the driving forces behind the work present the form that the artwork would take. After all, a huge part of the artwork that has been included in the album is comprised by sigils and symbolisms crafted prior to the music itself, a fact that made the visual part being driven by those in a high percentage. Will became sigils, sigils became music, music become vision and vision become image and words, if I had to describe the process in a sentence.
The design in total was a process of channelling, equally and analogically presented with the musical part. The artwork holds significant keys for the realisation and understanding of the tracks, portals to dive into the core of the spiritual background of every offering included. Every visual part of the album is crucial and undivided from the total, a task that we had in mind from the beginning. 'KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA' is a powerful magical concept itself, constructed in levels within levels, letting the listener explore one of the darkest corners of the psyche and return to the surface, a magical gateway to crafts forgotten and primordial.
Your nom de guerre with Haxandraok is something of exploration in itself. Are you able to walk me through ‘Saevus H. Aldra-Al-Melekh’?
- Saevus Helcath, the first form of my insignia, later evolved to Saevus H. Aldra-Al-Melekh. The elements and translations per se could describe the meaning, but I would prefer not to delve into such personal matters. The name of a musician should be his Dionysian mask to partake into the mystery of the art, holding a special place into the totality of the work. Ever evolving and ever significant, exactly as we regard our art and treat our aural channellings.
The majority of vocals on the album come in the form of a thoroughly engaging sidestep from the usual black metal approach. The approach is chant-like incantations, not dissimilar to those found on THY DARKENED SHADE’s ‘Liber Lvcifer…’ album, being heralded and woven around the music quite tastefully.
- The creation of ‘KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA’ was a total decision of channelling relentless externalities into the final form of the album. Everything was counted down to details, but at the same time, the inspiration came totally fierce and uncontrolled. There have been certain influences from folk musical genres outside the spectrum of metal in general, especially in the vocal lines and style, but we wouldn’t be able to search for the source, just plain channelling and embodiment of the forces that lead the energy to the result. Vocals, string instruments and percussions blend together to form the final form as adoration to our sources of inspiration.
One of the recurrent figures throughout the album’s lyrics is that of Nox. Nox is the Latin iteration of the Greek deity Nyx, the primordial goddess of the night. Nyx is said to have stood at the beginning of creation and mothered the personified deities of Sleep (Hypnos), Death (Thanatos) and Darkness (Erebus). Said to be born from Hesiod’s cosmological definition of Chaos – "the gaping void above the Earth created when Earth and Sky are separated from their primordial unity" – Nyx was feared by Zeus himself.
The other, likely more intended, use of Nox is one relating to the traditions of the Draconian order, Dragon Rouge. In this context, the term could be used to represent the Clavicula Nox; one of the primary magical symbols used within the order. Its name roughly translates to “Key of Night” and is used in the process of transforming the unconscious into conscious lucidity.
- It is a really interesting connotation, as the mythical background is always affecting the magical work. The Draconian current is compiled and comprised by the countless archetypes that have imprinted and have been imprinted by the ancient vibrations of the Dragon, not only as a central archetypical figure but also as a force of nature, exoteric and esoteric, affecting the totality of human perception towards magic, energy and the divine. The creation of myths equals the work of theurgia, the work of man creating Gods by internal memory and acquisition of divine virtue, the platonic idea of revisiting gnosis, a process that has always been overseen by the Great Red Dragon and the imprints of the current. As it is natural, the element of Nyx, the power of Typhoeus, and the rejuvenating force of Thanatos are all present within the approach to the core of NOX’s magical concept, parameters that are vital to the understanding.
Can you tell me about the use of Nox within the context of Haxadraok and what this enigmatic entity means to you personally?
- I would rather avoid stepping into very specific details regarding the core of the NOX concept, as it is, in essence, very important initiatory information within the vault of Dragon Rouge - Ordo Draconis et Atri Adamantis. It can be said though that NOX and XON form a gate, a portal, as well as the Key of NOX, or else the Clavicula NOX, elements to enter a parallel dimensional state and reality, the gate to Atlantis. The triangle, the cross and the eye of Drakon. Practitioners familiar with the otherworldly realities of the Draconian current will hold the key to activate the passage, entering the sphere of NOXON. The listener is confronted with a calling force throughout the experience of the track, an invitation to delve into the visualisation and become one with the entity standing at the gates of NOX.
Dragon Rouge was founded by Swedish esoteric author Thomas Karlsson in 1989, along with a handful of other like-minded occultists. The order claims interest and influence from the likes of Carlos Castaneda, Julius Evola and Kenneth Grant, alongside both ancient and modern philosophers including Plato, Herakleitos, Friedrich Nietzsche and Henri Bergson. The order’s key areas of interest lay with Qliphothic magick, Sumerian mythology, Tantra and the Goetia.
How did you find yourself on the path of the Draconian current specifically?
- As stated earlier, there was always a call towards the path of the Draconian current, an inclination towards the esoteric and spiritual endeavours related to the Dragon and the mystical aspects of reality and beyond. The first steps were taken in the early school and student years by multiverse research and development, exploring the various extensions of esoteric theorems, as well as building a base of philosophical views and perspectives that would later evolve to the main foundation of the theosophical perception. The occult fields of study are vast but mostly filled with sharpshooting theories, theoretical and practical imbalance, disorienting viewpoints and ignorance. I would say that the intuition granted by a certain course of evolution granted me the chance to avoid most of the delusional and disorienting aspects, gradually showing the way towards the Draconian becoming.
Dragon Rouge, as an organisation and a magical order, was known to me for a long time before I became part of it, back in the days when the Internet hadn’t yet polluted the fields of esoteric and spiritual practice and studies. The main aspects of the order were already part of my personal work, as well as the main perspectives towards magic and spirituality. A series of personal occurrences combined with the ever-growing urge to step further into the natural calling vibrations led me to delve deeper and deeper, to the point that it all became clear. The initiatory magical work within Dragon Rouge and its practices, philosophy and life course had already begun.
The order seems to cater to a rather varied, and sometimes contradictory, collection of influences.
- It is very natural to be viewed as such. The Dragon Order and the current, in general, have been constructed on the multiple, innumerable vibrations of the Dragon across the globe, across all four directions, across all of the dimensions of time and space. Contradiction and displacement of perspectives are only visible on the surface, deceitful for those that seek fast and ignorant answers. When working with the multifaceted tools and formulas of Draconian magic, everything falls in place.
I wonder whether you feel that black metal has influenced your interest in the occult, or vice versa?
- It is natural to be influenced and it is also natural to become an influence when art is honest and clearly channelling the inner flame of the artist of any form. Certain black metal acts of the past had been a great inspiration to the dark arts in general, regardless of the depth of esoteric knowledge that the individuals behind them really had achieved. Sometimes the forces become present through such extremes in art; the artist becomes an envoy to express and offers monumental channellings. For instance, BATHORY and ‘The Return…’ release, as well as all of this era, are overflown with those vibrations, being a spiritual compass for those who heed the call. As it was natural, the personal magical work had been a huge inspiration for my artistic endeavours since the early years, gradually being forged and formed to become what it is today. I would say that I owe a lot to the powers that be, for the guidance and continuous offering of inspirational pulses.
Why do you think there is such an abundance of occult-leaning individuals within the genre? From where I sit, this has been on an exponential rise over the past five or so years.
- This is a phenomenon that has been brewed by many factors, not only, and maybe least, in a spiritual way. It is a general characteristic of the masses to follow trends and given patterns, while the modern world pushes everything to commercialisation and an empty, shallow approach of everything. Black metal was always torn apart by trends and hypes, while very few were at least loyal to their expression and foundations. It is pointless to try and analyse the matter from an occult perspective in my opinion, it is just plain need to be shown, recognised, or at least be accepted into musical circles, or even a means to gain some attention when the music itself is not something special. Occult imagery and symbolism used in total ignorance, laughable statements etc. Hopefully, we are seeing the end of this parade, the genre will soon turn its mass scope to something else and few occult acts will remain.
I see the influence of Dragon Rouge, or Draconian currents at least, to have a long history within heavy metal. Sweden’s THERION have a song titled ‘Clavicula Nox’ from their 1998 album ‘Vovin’ and have featured lyrics written by Thomas Karlsson on various releases. Mika Hakola has also included Draconian musings and imagery within the works of OFERMOD and NEFANDUS, whilst SERPENT NOIR’s latest release, ‘Death Clan OD’, deals primarily with Draconian philosophy and includes both lyrics and vocal performance by Karlsson.
- All of them are respected brothers and individuals, offering and having offered a truly powerful series of musical, lyrical and artistic releases in general, carrying the torch of the Draconian flame in arts. We have been cross cooperating towards various projects, as well as in ‘KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA’ with Thomas Karlsson, and there is surely much more to come on many levels. The Great Red Dragon makes us restless and ever-moving towards means to channel His word.
Looking at this marriage of ideas and art from the reverse perspective, how do you see this line of philosophy in the context of black metal, or music in general?
- It would be sterile to limit this philosophy and perspective to any musical genre, as the Draconian current surpasses any categorisation. I think it is very natural to see artists that have been spiritually forged into this esoteric cauldron to be acting and engraving their flame into any form of art. The results always bear the mark of our magical work and the experience granted by the given practices, without cosmetic theoretical ornamentation, plain, straight and powerful.
In my interview with A. V. Priest – founding member of Acherontas and the man behind ZAZEN SOUNDS – he described the early days of the Hellenic black metal movement as being rather… intense. Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade mirrored similar sentiments, describing regular confrontation and conflict due to being marked as a metalhead.
Are you able to contribute to this discussion at all?
- I would strongly agree with these references and descriptions of the situation back then. There was much less tolerance and sometimes violent conflicts across the scenes and genres, even within metal “circles”. Apart from that, the social circles were fast to judge and expel the different, especially in the ‘90s - early ‘00s, before the coming of the age of the Internet. That turned the tables many times, in some terms positively, in others negatively. Labelling, of course, will always remain, but I can surely say that back then it was also a factor of creating a hardcore ideology towards black metal as a philosophy, having to make a conscious decision to be part of a subculture, unlike nowadays where you just become a black metal fan by clicking on a YouTube video.
You are also involved with the ambient project Shibalba, alongside fellow Acherontas members. What can you tell me about this project?
- Shibalba has always held a special place in our hearts. Unconstrained and unbound by the limitations of black metal, and metal expression in general, we induce our spiritual vibrations and fully create meditative art via the act of meditation. It is a very rare experience and a true chance to channel the inner void in aural and binaural patterns, being free to express every corner of our perspective and vision.
Is there perhaps something you get out of Shibalba that you don’t get out of your metal projects?
- This would be the freedom of artistic movement in sorts, not being limited to expand into a certain genre or line of genres. Shibalba has no borders of frontiers; we draw our own course and traverse across the musical, lyrical and spiritual pathways, as we feel inclined by the forces that guide our inspiration. For this, I regard this way of expression priceless.
What do you have planned for the immediate future, both artistically and personally?
- The future holds many surprises and powerful revelations for the followers of the Circle of Haxandraok. New material and releases are already on the way, as the previous period was intensely rigid and full of powerful vibrations, surfacing many hidden elements. Time and will shall tell and judge the new directions, as ‘KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA’ was just the beginning of this continuum. Evolution will be the foremost task, both musically and spiritually. It is relatively early to uncover more details, but we are decided to push every limit in order to fulfil our vision.
This article is an excerpt of the full interview conducted, which further explores Chris' almost twenty-year career within black metal, his involvement with Acherontas, and the formation and longevity of Devathorn.
The full interview will be available in a later print edition of Inner Missive.