by RS Frost
Formed in 2017, anonymous newcomers UMBRA CONSCIENTIA burst forth into the black metal arena in November 2019 with their debut album, ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’, released through TERRATUR POSSESSIONS.
If my research is to be believed, Umbra Conscientia was formed in Costa Rica by members of death metal band CORPSE GARDEN, namely my conversational counterpart Aether (guitar, bass, vocals) and lead vocalist F.
- This project has been in the works since 2017, yes. It exists because of a need to materialise and express the results of the life path I’ve been walking for the past ten years. Once I had all the songs written, F. being an old friend of mine and knowing each other for so long, musically and personally, it was without a question he had to be the one to help me portray my idea of vocals. His work is truly great.
The addition of drummer A.N.L, previously known for his work in Germany’s DYSANGELIUM, would complete the lineup that would go on to record the debut. How did this lineup come together?
- A.N.L. is someone that I met because of a friend on a trip I made to Germany back in 2015. I was looking for a drummer and Costa Rica is a place where it’s difficult to find someone that understands the vision I had. It’s a very small country and even if there are a few respectable acts here, it’s hard to find someone that could understand exactly what I had in mind. The focus of most of the good musicians in my country is different. Black metal here is almost null and the only drummer I would’ve worked with was busy.
Having listened to his work in Dysangelium and knowing that the record was going to be recorded and mixed by Tim from Void Emanation Studios, I asked A.N.L to join the project. I couldn’t be happier about this decision; his work is as responsible and important to the band’s sound as mine.
Given this distance, how did you go about rehearsing and recording?
- No rehearsals. I recorded a guitar demo, sent it to A.N.L, he recorded the drums in Germany, sent them back, then I recorded the guitars, bass and vocals over his work in Costa Rica. No click track and each song in just one take, so it keeps the natural feeling to it. Bass and guitars were re-amped in Germany. Then I travelledto Kiel to work on the production and mixing of the record with Tim from Void Emanation. With nowadays tools it’s not so difficult to put an album together with distance, you just have to find the right musicians on the same page as you to work with.
My first exposure to Umbra Conscientia was when, around six months ago, Terratur Possessions uploaded a song to their Soundcloud. This song was untitled and came from an unnamed band. Not long after this, a second song surfaced, once again without any details, but whose calling card was now a striking piece of artwork depicting an archetypal duality between light and darkness.
What was behind the anonymity of these first two tracks?
- It was Ole from Terratur Possessions’ idea. Considering the band is brand new, it was a good way to get people curious about the songs.
It seemingly worked wonders. Where did the idea for this piece of art come from?
- It was made by Chris from Misanthropic-Art. I purchased this from him as it really spoke to me when I first saw it. Humans struggle too much in the battle between what’s good and evil, not knowing that all is one and therefore none of the previous mentioned truly exists, that is why you see two eyes in the artworks and if you look from a little distance it looks like a face, one single face, one being.
Upon hearing the song, I set to re-listening to it multiple times. I was hearing a striking likeness, or perhaps influence is a better term, to FUNERAL MIST, ‘VVorldVVithoutEnd’ era KATHARSIS and a sprinkling of ANTAEUS.
- All three bands mentioned are bands I truly like and I’m a fan of. I would say if I ever had one in mind it was actually Antaeus, and MAYHEM. Everything I listen to in general is an influence to me, and even if metal-wise there are more bands I am influenced by, if you pay close attention, the common factor between all the listed projects is the intensity, that is definitely where I was influenced by them. Respect to all of them, they’ve done remarkable and transcendental work in black metal.
The identity of this band was soon unveiled, and Umbra Conscientia began their journey in the light, releasing ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’ not long after.
How was the response to the album when it came out?
- I have little access to people reactions; I really don’t know. All I know is that I’m satisfied and without Ole’s support this couldn’t have been done.
After listening to a couple of Corpse Garden albums it was clear that the Costa Rican contingency of Umbra Conscientia have spent their time mastering the art of dizzying and uncomfortable riff-work not dissimilar to the likes of ULCERATE, GORGUTS, DODECAHEDRON and even DEATHSPELL OMEGA to a degree.
How did the music for Umbra Conscientia take form and why did you guys decide to move away from Corpse Garden?
- I am still in Corpse Garden. The reason I decided to create something separate was because this was a very personal point of view, something that was definitely influenced by the work we have done in Corpse Garden, at least conceptually, however, it had my own personal views in it, whereas Corpse Garden is something that is worked between all five members of it. The music of UC took form from the idea behind it, from the message that was trying so hard to come through me to this world.
From a compositional viewpoint, did you have a plan for how you wanted it to sound or did things happen more organically and naturally?
- The music just flowed, once you have the idea of what you want defined in your head, music starts taking shape by itself. I just write music that I would like to listen to and that means something to me. Aggressiveness, intensity and decay were always in mind. You see, I first define the intention for what I’ll do, then I do it and it just flows.
And what is it that you want to achieve with this project?
- To express the message behind it. One more channel of the fires of Satan between the spiritual world and the material world. My intention is not to be innovative or create anything new, but to express what wants to be expressed through me and the music I make. It’s cathartic in a way as well.
The opening intro track on the album, ‘El Caos Que Precede a la Creación’translates to ‘The Chaos that Precedes Creation’ and indeed is a foreboding harbinger of the insanity that follows. When looking for some kind of overall concept relating to the album, it soon becomes clear that there is considerable depth to the themes being offered alongside the almost overbearingly intense sonic output.
The track that stands out in this regard is ‘Lord of Phosphorus’. In Greek mythology, Phosphorus was the name given to the planet Venus in its morning appearance, the Morning Star. The word also corresponds to the Latin word Lucifer, which is also used to name the morning star, and thusly was used in the Vulgate translation of the Hebrew word Helel, used to refer to Venus as the “brilliant one” or “shining one”.
This track title alone would lead me to believe that Luciferian ideology plays an important role in Umbra Conscientia. Take into account the savagery of the music and the LP booklet artwork, and this notion is only intensified.
- You are right. Luciferian or satanic ideology is the core behind the project’s main reason to exist. There is of course more to it than just that, however, to put a label to my point of view would be contradictory. I do not preach or say that I speak absolute truth, but it is my own way of seeing things, definitely influenced by what you mentioned, if anyone else relates to it, good, if not, good as well. The song you mention is indeed making a direct reference to Lucifer and his transformative powers, being open to it without fear and with complete conviction. A call to the gates of the abyss.
From what I can deduce, the band name seemingly denotes something along the lines of an impenetrable dark shadow that has woven itself around consciousness (‘conciencia’ being the Spanish word for ‘consciousness’).
- It stands for the awareness of your own shadow. Being aware of the powers behind it and everything you can achieve and realise through it. The concept of shadow can be subjective, but it can easily be explained in the archetype of Lucifer or through Jungian philosophy.
The artwork accompanying the album is just as intriguing as the music and lyrics, suggesting a divine connection between a darkening of mind, death and the ensuing assimilation of consciousness into something far greater than the sum of its parts.
- You pretty much got it. I can only add that it represents change, a new consciousness, a new point of view, a new existence after going through a lot of internal changes and the influence of death in this material plane and in the mental or spiritual one. This is something that most true occultists can probably relate to, and it can be described as the Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness. You see, the word Lunar stands for the feminine aspect; this aspect is one of destruction, of liberation. Feminine energies are transformative and are required for progress. So it gives emphasis on the balance required between all of these things to achieve that. To sum it all up, the concept behind the record is telling a process of transformation, one influenced or triggered by Lucifer, seen through an alchemical lens, so that every internal process or change is led by the alchemical process of Solve Et Coagula. The final line being the result of the contact with death, a spiritual death and a new beginning and state of consciousness, realising everything was always inside, however outside at the same time. As above, so below.
A few of your answers along the way have led me to believe that you have spent time studying the works of Hermes Trismegistus?
- That is correct, it is the main core of my beliefs. As I mentioned, this project was very influenced by the work we did in Corpse Garden, conceptually, so yes, you are right. His teachings, and alchemy in general, are the main keys to understand the operation of the sun, or in other words, “How things work”.
How did you come to be interested in esoteric practices and traditions? I can’t imagine the word of thrice-greatest Hermes is overly popular in Costa Rica.
- It is definitely not something common here in Costa Rica, this is a country polluted by Christianity. This began around ten years ago, it was brought to me by a close friend, Corpse Garden’s drummer Erick Mejia, and we started this journey together and turned it into our band’s fuel. Then along my own personal journey, I found myself confronted by Lucifer, him being the guiding hand to understand and execute Hermes’work.
Your previous reference to Jungian philosophy is something I cannot leave unexplored, but before we get into the works of Carl Jung, something else that you said before has left me with a burning question.
Do you consider Luciferian and Satanic ideologies to be the same thing? If not, what are the differences in your view?
- I would say they’re different sides of the same coin. One represents enlightenment, wisdom, a breaker of chains, whilst the other one represents everything that is destructive, chaos, death, adversarial, etc. This is how I view things, it’s a very personal way of seeing things, some people out there might disagree, I don’t really care, my perception of these topics is based on my own experience with them. You can say one represents a subtle aspect and the other one the gross aspect. I won’t go into much detail because no one can explain to another what this really is, people have to experience them on their own.
Is your idea of Lucifer or Satan derived from the philosophical nature of Miltonian thought, or more aligned to that of a theistic deity?
- It’s the universal source for all of what it represents. But one has to probably analyse further the meaning of “deity”. For example, death or change. It happens all the time, things get destroyed, things change and evolve, and the energy that drives those happenings can be seen as “Death”. You know what I mean? If you observe carefully enough, you can identify patterns in the behaviour of the universe, you can see the archetypes, they influence our existence. They have a real physical effect on our lives, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t “touch” or “see” the deity with your basic human senses, it exists, for existence is not just limited to the material world and much less to human language.
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who spent the better part of his life exploring anthropology, archeology, literature, philosophy and religious studies and how these areas can all be useful when looking at psychiatry and the conscious and unconscious mind. Jung would go on the be heralded as the father of analytical psychology and, along with Freud and Erikson, opened the door to theories of consciousness regarding the psyche being made up of a number of separate but interacting systems. The three main systems were the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.
One of the major aspects of Jungian philosophy that seems to be attached to the work of Umbra Conscientia is that of the collective consciousness, in this case, one realised only after going through the stage of death.
How do you see the link between death and the collective?
- I see it more in a personal work, and that personal work influences the collective, cause and effect. Death is change, death is everywhere. It is required for progress, no matter the topic. Look at the world around us, especially now. Death is here, more present than ever, and look how it moves the world, think about all the improvements that the health system will see after this (the COVID-19 pandemic) passes. Think of all the people that change their lives because of this. Then, on a more personal level, whatever you’re going through, whatever improvement you want to do, it requires a spiritual death and rebirth. That rebirth being the new state of mind where you’ll be, the new spiritual level where you’re at after going through whatever process or ritual you were going through.
How do you see the interaction of the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious and do you think that technology, particularly social media, have affected this interplay in recent years?
- The problem with social media is very simple; if not used in an intelligent way, it makes people look outside instead of inside. He who looks outside dreams, he who looks inside awakens. It can be the cause for a lot of stagnant spirits.
Another one of Jung’s theories that comes up quite a lot in your work is that of The Shadow. Jung described the shadow self as everything that we have denied ourselves or have refused to associate with our own ego but readily see in others. These traits are typically attached to feelings of guilt and shame such as aggression, cowardice, carelessness and love of material possessions.
- It’s the true self of everyone. Humans tend to run away or reject the darkest aspects of our nature, but everything is one, there’s no bad or good, one just is, period. The concept of shadow and the way Carl Jung addresses it in his work is key to opening the doors to the true nature of every living human being. Guilt comes from a moral standpoint and the way humans are raised in our culture. They raise us to be repressed and controlled, but we won’t let them. Humans have to accept their nature, humans have to accept we are all agents of death, for only death is real, and once we open ourselves up to chaos, we’ll find our true nature. We are the tools for chaos to unfold in the material world, repressing those impulses will only cause conflict or “psychological” problems.
Why did you decide to explore this particular notion within your artistic work?
- Because people don’t usually know how related all these divine topics are to our own psyche. People think that science and spirituality cannot go hand in hand. The way Jung approached psychology was perfect for me, for he understood our divine connection with the universe, because in order to understand the universe, we have to understand ourselves and Lucifer is the bearer of that torch. He’s the one that can show us the way to our true nature and to fully embrace what we are and why we’re here.
Umbra Conscientia recently announced their introduction to the live arena; firstly at the annual Beyond The Gates Festival held in Bergen, Norway, in August, followed by an appearance at Mexico’s Sangre y Fuego Para Mictlantecuhtli III in November.
Diving straight into playing festivals is a brave move. Why not start off with some smaller shows to test the waters?
- Because there’s no need to test the waters. All the band members are familiar with live performances at big festivals. And if this project is to be presented live, it better be worth it. What better than doing it this way?
Am I right in that these two shows will be the only live performances in support of ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’?
- Yes, that is correct. We will play live only if it’s worth it, so a handful of shows per record is just enough for me. The distance between members is a factor as well, but I personally prefer a couple of great shows than just going around playing everywhere just for the sake of it; fame or that type of attention is not in the focus of what Umbra Conscientia is about.
Thank you for your time and insight into your work. I now invite you tooffer any closing sentiments you may have.
- Thank you for your time and interest.