Inquistion’s Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm was my co-album of the year for 2010 (along w/ Deathspell Omega’s Paracletus). Due to some “controversy” regarding the official release date (It was officially released in Europe and South America in 2010. The official US release date was 2011, but HHR was selling copies in late 2010), it might also be my 2011 album of the year. Nowhere on Earth will you find a better modern take on traditional black metal than this album, or Inquisition’s stellar back catalogue for that matter. Dagon’s riff wizardry and eerie, ritualistic vocals mesh with Incubus’ drumming par excellence to create a perfect storm of black metal that is both catchy and crushing. The duo is taking USBM back from the hipsters and bullshit artists one devastating track at a time.
After worshipping the band from afar for several years, I finally got in touch with guitarist/vocalist Dagon to discuss the new album and the thoughts/concepts behind Inquisition’s singular take on black metal..
THKD: What can you tell us about the new album’s title, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm? I know there is a quote from you inside the booklet that explains it to a degree, but can you give our readers some further insight into the meaning?
Dagon: The title itself, in essence means “dark laws of the infinite universe”. On the cover you can see two skulls, one above and one below and in the middle a dead star cracked with a black hole in the middle. The two skulls represent the forces of duality and the dead star represents the the mass where all the energy goes recycling back into the astral plane.
That cycle is the prime law of the universe, something very powerful, opposite forces uniting to create and destroy leaving behind a black hole, something massively powerful, a form of Satan if you will.
With that said, this cover explains well the meaning of the entire album.
THKD: What did you set out to accomplish with Ominous Doctrines…? What was your mindset going into creating the new album?
Dagon: As cliché as it may sound, my primary goal was to create the best album I could and by that I mean creating very catchy riffs with quick twists and turns, make an active album that kept the listener busy and glued to the speakers without losing interest and adding as always those spoken, chanted like vocals that simply dwindle upon the music simply communicating a message.
Production wise I wanted a good classic guitar tone so I went with the old Marshall heads, we all were going for a natural drum sound that still projected strong, and near zero effects on the vocals.
THKD: How would you describe your approach to songwriting? Did you do/try anything different when it came time to write Ominous Doctrines…?
Dagon: Nothing different at all but I would say that for this album I spent much more time writing riffs alone, allowing myself more deep thinking while writing. In the past I would try and create with Incubus there with me, improvising as we go and keeping what I liked. This time, riffs were mostly created while alone.
THKD: Exceptional guitar work is one of Inquisition’s trademarks. Who are your influences/inspirations as a guitarist? Do you practice often? How would you describe your approach to the instrument?
Dagon: Lately I have been practicing much more than before. I’m trying to keep the one hour a day rule to keep those muscle groups in check we guitarists rely on so much in the forearm areas and also simply keep my creativity on fire. I am starting to write the riffs for the next album so it’s important to stay active.
Influences, believe it or not my number one influence has been Angus Young. He inspired me to start playing a guitar and he inspired me to play those fat power chord driven riffs.
My approach, I assume you are asking about technique? I took classical guitar for almost five years, so the good thing is I am very focused on good posture because poor posture really can affect how you are able to execute your chords. I always make sure I play hard; I play very hard in fact, because it’s the way to get tone out of a tube amplifier. Tubes have dynamics and when you strike or tremolo pick those massive power chords you want people to feel that power. Clean playing, is another golden rule, I want people to hear every note I am executing.
THKD: Another Inquisition trademark is of course the eerie, reptilian-sounding vocals. How did you develop your vocal approach?
Dagon: Back in the day when I was thinking about a vocal style for Inquisition I came to the conclusion that I did not want something screamed out at top lung, so many people were doing that, and still are, and identity is important to me so I figured what can I do that the majority are not doing; meanwhile I kept hearing this idea in my head of a spoken like inhuman form of vocals chanting over very heavy and at times fast music creating a contrast.
That’s why when people say it sounds like a frog or anything else I feel I obtained what I wanted, I achieved that goal of keeping the human factor out of the vocal chants.
THKD: Inquisition is a band with a satanic message. What does Satan mean to you? Is black metal inherently Satanic?
Dagon: Black Metal is very satanic. Its individualism, elitism, rebellion against unnecessary control, pride with a cause. Everything that Christian book tells us about “the devil” is in essence what Black Metal is but through sound waves. Forget one moment about Christianity in general and think of Satanism as the negative pole.
THKD: In addition to Satanism, I also detect some cosmic and metaphysical themes on the new album. Can you talk a bit about that?
Dagon: Satanism is much deeper than what I just described. That energy is everywhere, it’s in that cosmic dust that makes the ground we walk on and even who we are. Every cosmic molecule is in you and will eventually crumble and die, recycling itself back with the stars, from there you hear the known phrase “we are all a star” for good reason.
Also, space in general is simply the most real heaven and the most real hell you will ever come across alive or dead, that’s it, it’s the real deal. The massive chaos, titanic cosmic bodies that dwindle around, everything around us is so massive and powerful that I see the parallel of what all the known mythologies to mankind have written about heaven and hell as a direct inspiration from it (space) as something we have been overlooking our entire lifetime.
There is much more to my views on this but overall the roots of it were mentioned.
THKD: Inquisition continues to wear corpse paint while many other black metal bands have abandoned the practice. Why is this important to you and what does it symbolize?
Dagon: By removing it I feel it would symbolize a change so removing the paint one day is out of question. It symbolizes a movement within a movement, Black metal; it represents the difference between “their” metal and thinking and “our” metal and way of thinking. It represents the fact that black metal is more than music and is a form of magic and ritual. It represents the fact that the spiritual self is unleashed.
Dagon: The point to get across to people was the fact that transcendentalism, mysticism, spirituality and elevated states of mind go beyond the nocturnal veil. Day is as powerful as night, we don’t resonate with the night only.
To be specific though, on our 2004 album “Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer” the main focus was Lucifer himself, the morning star and what better to celebrate that than having adding images under the rays of that star.
To many its funny, I understand, I have probably more sense of humor than most reading this or listening to Inquisition, but at the end of the day as an artist I will follow through with an idea if the meaning of it overpowers the reaction I will get from the crowds.
THKD: Why do you prefer to work as a duo? Would you ever consider adding more members to Inquisition?
Dagon: Because it works just fine. If your food tastes fine with just two ingredients why add more? Stupid analogies aside, I can tell you it is comfortable while touring, but at times it has its negatives like taking in more work per member as well. But overall the band functions just fine, for rehearsals we meet and there’s no one else to have to wait for, less room for error, a much more personal feeling rather a group feel to it. Live there is no lacking of low end so we don’t even miss having a bass player and that in itself is what makes Inquisitions sound, something a little different.
THKD: With that said, what does each of the two members of the Inquisition bring to the band? The two of you have developed a unique synergy.
Dagon: I don’t think we bring anything anymore special then other bands do when members get together and arrange songs. I mean, I bring guitars and vocals; Incubus brings drums to the scenario and we put songs together like any other musician does. I think the extra care lies in the way melodies are chosen and put together; the magic is knowing what a good tune is and knowing where to place it. Incubus is great at knowing when to highlight something and when not to and just keep tempos and not saturate a song with meaningless drum fills. All those things when you add them together is what we both contribute.
Dagon: I met him in 2002 through his zine he was making at the time. After talking to him I found out he painted, it was something he did on a personal level. I asked him if he could show me his art without ever letting him know I was interested in finding a new artist. Once I saw a sample of his work I asked him if he would like to work with us because I was interested in an artist that had not been working with anybody and could basically grow with the band. I never wanted to work with an artist that lots of other bands had worked with so luckily it all worked out because you can look at an Inquisition cover and immediately know whose cover that is, his style is unique and uniqueness is an important element for Inquisition.
THKD: In addition to Ominous Doctrines…, you recently re-released your first album, Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult. How does your first album compare with your most recent work? How has Inquisition evolved since then?
Dagon: I think we evolved, absolutely. We are tighter, faster, heavier… the elements we had before have been worked on and improved, and to me that’s evolution.
THKD: Ominous Doctrines… and Into the Infernal Regions… are your first releases for Hells Headbangers. How did you come to work with the label?
Dagon: Chase contacted us asking if we were interested in allowing his label to release a special addition of our first album. Knowing how good of work he does and his excellent reputation I felt it would be a good idea to ask him if he would like to re-release all past Inquisition releases in special editions for fans. Also, we needed to get some distribution taken care of in the Americas and Hells Headbangers could cover that, No Colours Rec. alone was not distributing well enough on the American continent.
THKD: It is well known that you originally hail from Columbia, but now reside in the US. What are your thoughts on the state of the US black metal scene?
Dagon: To clear things up, I am an American that’s half Colombian. I started the band down in Colombia where I had been living for 14 years and decided to come back. I have no thoughts on the American Black metal scene; I have nothing neither great nor bad to say.
It’s such a passive scene that I don’t have enough material to form an opinion on.
THKD: Will you be touring in support of Ominous Doctrines…? How would you describe the Inquisition live experience?
Dagon: The shows will always be about the music first, we have a very simple stripped down stage setting, just a few banners. The only visuals we rely on are low lighting to enhance the atmosphere. The music is the drug, the poison, the spiritual experience and even war all in one dose. Come to an Inquisition event and I promise you will walk out feeling just fine. I can’t use many words here; I don’t want to try to sell myself here or the band.
Touring, of course, we are definitely a live band. Keep your eyes open and I am sure you will come across dates. We have festivals coming up. Maryland Death Fest, Kings of Black Metal in Germany, Hammer Open Air in Finland and more to come.
THKD: Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Dagon: Enjoy the new album, “Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm”