Interview With ‘Azrael’


Hailing from Canada, this fresh duo drives a raw and spirited holy black metal onslaught. Coming from a background of Satanism, now saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Azrael wields the mighty and terrible sword of the Lord! True to their faith in Jesus Christ, Azrael‘s message targets the lies of Satan and the blasphemous rites that surround Satanism. Dismas and Blodhemn

TMR: Hello to you from´The Metal Resource’ Holland, how are things going there in Canada?  

Dismas: Hello back!  Canada – where we are, gloomy and rainy.  Perfect for writing new material.  ; ) Blodhemn: And even a little snow.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! [name and instrument]

Dismas: My pseudonym is Dismas, from the name of the good thief crucified next to Christ.  Bass guitar is my main instrument, and I share vocals and drum duties with Blodhemn.
Blodhemn: I took my name from an Enslaved album as they were the first black metal band I got into. It means “blood revenge” –  I chose it as it epitomizes my feelings towards Lucifer. I played guitar as well as doing some of the vocals and drums on “The Harrowing Of Hell”.

TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Azrael’

Dismas: Literally, it started as a fluke.  Blodhemn was a co-worker of mine for a time, a total metalhead, and one day we happened to get on the topic of religious belief, when he told me he was a Christian.  We began to share our love of extreme music with each other, and found that we both were really digging Christian black metal.  I suggested we do our own thing with it to see where it went, and now here we are.
Blodhemn: Yeah, that is pretty much what happened.

TMR: Are you guys full time musicians ? If not what kind of job or study do you do beside the band  ?

Dismas: No – this is my only project.  I am a freelance writer on the side, a student of theology and Christian history, and studying writing at university.
Blodhemn:  I also work at a grocery store : P Though I pray for the day the I am full time.

TMR: What is your musical background ? [for everyone personal]

Dismas: I played in several bands before this one – a noise/punk/grunge band called Samuel the Black Shaman, and an anti-Christian black metal outfit known as Black Autumn (not to be confused with the ones from the States, Germany, and Sweden).  With Samuel, I played live and toured.  Black Autumn was purely a studio project, but had some limited success – apparently Fenriz of Darkthrone heard it and liked it, but I was never sure if that was a true story or not.
Blodhemn: I’ve played in a number of bands though the ones I’m in presently have taken me further then I have been in the past.

TMR:  The name ‘Azrael’ reminded me of the cat of Gargamel from the Smurfs. But undoubtedly there will be an other story behind it. So why is chosen for this name ?

Dismas: Hahaha…actually the name was chosen by Blodhemn.  Azrael is spoken of in apocryphal texts in the Abrahamic religions as the archangel of death, but the name also means “Whom God helps”.

TMR:  Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Azrael’ ? .. how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?

Dismas: I wrote most of the lyrics, except for the track “Christ Enthroned” – that was Blodhemn’s work.  When I wrote the lyrics, I actually was listening to a track by Crimson Moonlight on repeat – “In Depths of Dreams Unconscious”.  Lyrics-wise, I was very affected by the tragedy in Norway concerning Anders Breivik which was happening at the time, and wrote “Evening Canticle” while that was all going on.  Other lyrics were written more out of my experiences within the secular black metal scene, as well as my own spiritual life and studies.  Musically, big influences on the sound of this record were Craft, Horna, Fire Throne, Verdelger, old Emperor, Horde, Arch of Thorns, etc.
Blodhemn: Listening to bands like Fire Throne and Horde are a really big influence to my writing.

TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Azrael’ the best ?

Dismas: I think Jason at Nokternal Hemizphear summed it up best in his write up on us, but I would simply say that it’s raw, old-school in style.
Blodhemn: Like scraping a rusted blade on blood-covered bone.

TMR: How does ‘Azrael’ stands in life till events in the world, religion and politics and in which proportion stands that till your music and lyrics ?

Dismas: Not sure…we are a very reclusive group.  When I look at the events of the world, I only become bogged down in what I see as so much evil and hatred.  It’s suffocating.  We do not really address any of it directly in our lyrics, though “Evening Canticle” and “Rebuild My Church” do speak about some of the evils in the world.  I would say though that Azrael is a band that stands for unity amongst Christians, and our both coming from very different traditions within Christianity, I feel, attests to this.
Blodhemn: When I wrote “Christ Enthroned” I had the idea of where humanity is headed in my mind’s eye. I do not see kindness beyond my front door. Too many of us focus only on ourselves (including myself), given in today’s world it seems hard to do anything else but no matter what, it eats away at our ability to unite.

TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just a accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate ! ..can you tell us how that is for ‘Azrael’ ?

Dismas: Lyrically, I wanted to appeal to people like me who love the music of black metal, but can’t ignore and/or stand by the message of it.  When I was in my anti-Christian days, I thought Christian black metal was a ridiculous idea, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that bands like Horde and Antestor were great stuff.  It stuck with me – Christ can reach into the darkest of places.
As I said, as far as the band is concerned, we come from opposite ends of the spectrum within Christianity, and use it as a source of strength for us as a band.  Our message to Christians is one of unity, especially in these dark times.
Blodhemn:  Yes, I also wish to communicate to the dark corners of the world.

TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live [past and future] and tell us why ?

Dismas: We don’t play live, and have no plans of doing so.

TMR: First record you bought? [for everyone personal]

Dismas: EVER?  Good grief, I can’t remember now.  First black metal record I ever bought though was Immortal’s “Sons of Northern Darkness”.
Blodhemn: Pretty sure it was one of the Nirvana albums.

TMR:What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]

Dismas:  British comedy – Fawlty Towers, The Office (the British one, not the American knock-off), etc.  But I would be amiss if I didn’t say that Trailer Park Boys is absolutely hilarious.
Blodhemn: Everything from Monty Python to the Hangover.

TMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?

Dismas:  Simply by networking and getting to know others in the Christian metal scene.  Facebook is great for this, and everyone is really supportive.

TMR:How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

Blodhemn:  Push-ups or running on the spot if I’m nervous.

TMR:  Have you already played live ? If so, describe your show, visual and musically ? And tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

Dismas:  If we ever do a live show, it will be a one-time event.

TMR:  How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

Dismas: N/A

TMR:  What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]

Blodhemn:  I’m a grocery clerk, thus there have been so many I can’t remember, hahahaha.

TMR: Do you have a life philosophy? [for everyone personal]

Dismas: Yes, Christianity.
Blodhemn: Christianity.

TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]

Dismas: I never go to shows…I’m a bit of a hermit.  What am I listening to these days?  I listen to a lot of styles of music, but within black metal specifically, I’ve been cranking Fire Throne and Vardoger lately.
Blodhemn: The gigs I end up at are my own with the other bands I’m in. I have been none stop listening to the new Lamb of God record.

TMR:  Tell us about the hardrock/metal scene in your area please?

Dismas: I wouldn’t know.  I have nothing to do with any local scene.
Blodhemn: Death/tech-core is booming but there is a good size underground punk and metal scene.

TMR:  What’s your outlook on the record-industry today?

Dismas: Mainstream-wise, it’s a cesspool.  All the good stuff is largely underground nowadays.  Within the Christian black metal scene though, I’d say it’s a fairly tight knit and supportive community – the complete opposite of anything mainstream, that’s for sure.
Blodhemn:  Agreed.

TMR: About your demo ‘The Harrowing of Hell’, tell us about the songs, the recording proces, who did the artwork etc.

Dismas: We literally capped that demo off in 9 and a half hours of solid recording in a cold garage.  Pure filth, all done on an 8-track analog recorder.  It was quite the exercise in musical guerrilla warfare, let’s put it that way.  ; )
The photos were done by myself, my wife and by members of Blodhemn’s other band, Nevernear.  The front cover is a medieval depiction of Christ’s descent into Hell following his crucifixion, and His freeing souls from there.  The songs – “Rebuild My Church” is a sort of rallying cry for Christian black metal bands, and a response to a lot of that “kill yourself for the devil” type of message floating around out there in a lot of the depressive and religious black metal outfits.  The title is a reference to a story concerning St. Francis of Assisi, where the crucifix in the San Damiano church spoke to him those words.  “Evening Canticle” was a sort of nature-based, more reflective song that I wrote in the wake of the Norway murders by that Anders Breivik lunatic.  “Moonlight Hangs Frozen” was an apocalyptic depiction of the torments of the devil.

TMR: The Harrowing of Hell’ will be released by ‘Nokternal Hemizphear’, how did you get signed by them ?

Dismas: Simply by emailing Jason and starting up a conversation.  Everything else just followed pretty naturally I think.  I was very impressed by his label, and so was Blodhemn.  Jason has a real passion for what he does, and it’s inspiring.

TMR: What about your plans for this year or the near future ?

Dismas: We are currently penning new material for an upcoming full-length, and in talks with Jason about possibly releasing it through Nokternal Hemizphear.  Time will tell.

TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

Dismas: Perserverance and prayer.

Blodhemn: Never let your ego get in the way. Sometimes the other guy’s idea really is better.

TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands ?

Blodhemn: I’d say with Azrael it would solely be the distance between us. For my other projects I would say finances is a big one. Also individual commitment can be a real problem.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wish ‘Azrael’ all the best for 2012 …  Is there anything you wanna say at last? [any final statement ?]

Dismas: Thanks man!  And thank you to all who have supported us and bought our disc so far – you have no idea how humbled and grateful we are!  Pax Christi.

Band members:
Blodhemn – Battle Axe, Savage War Cries, Drums
Dismas – Bass Onslaught, Vocal Chord Martyrdom, Drums

Weblinks: Facebook 

Buy Azrael “The Harrowing of Hell” at the Nokternal Hemizphear Webshop

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