| Beithíoch, an Irish band, whose music has seen a variety of facets over the years. Why is that so? What had been the starting point for the band and where is it now?|
Started making ambient black metal, first album Aisling Dhorcha came out in
2008, shortly after that worked on some demo albums that were given away
for free online, struggled to find a sound and a direction for the project.
Finally started clicking into place with Conquest and now Ghosts of a World
Long Forgotten – combining influences from black metal, death metal,
ambient, doom, classical – trying to combine the multi-layered melodies of
Summoning with the Riff-centred song writing of old Darkthrone, old
Therion, and the immersiveness of old Burzum.
Do you feel that you have found your type and style of music now or is it something that a state that can never actually be reached?
Development will probably always be continuous, but the aim is to build on the approach
that’s been crafted over the last two albums, rather trying to find a new
basis or way of writing each time. The next album is already in
development. So far songs feel more riff-centred, shades of things like
Dissection, early Sentenced creeping in - trying more to use the music to
tell a story. Same bedrock though.
Is there something that keeps the band going? An idea that still has not been expressed or a peculiar that sound that has not been found?
to produce something of lasting value keeps it going. Always learning from
the last period of creativity, building towards writing something more than
just ‘yet another metal album of mediocre, passing significance’.
How would you describe the music stylistically? How has the connection between the music and the original idea evolved over time?
I try to keep labels simple so that people just have a basic reference
point for what they’re going to listen to: black/death metal influenced by
the older (better) era of the genre. So far that hasn’t felt too
restrictive. I’m still able to do things my own way without throwing out
the lessons of the past.
It’s still music of a primal, Nietzschean spirit, still music that
glorifies strength (mental as much as physical) and imagination. It’s
perhaps become more consciously backward looking to the past – sometimes as
a sort of fantasy/escapism, but also as a way of communicating the
importance of a connection to one’s roots, one’s culture etc in a time when
everything is standardising, becoming alienated, becoming detached and
What does the band name refer to? How does it and the music fit together?
means ‘Beast’, it refers to the animal in man. Modern people like to think
themselves special, above the primitive and animalistic; that’s a lie. We
are all animals. Our motives are rarely rational and enlightened; more
often they are driven by base animal urges (eat, fuck, sleep, survive). The
self-proclaimed enlightened morality/selflessness of some people in or
present age is at worst a delusion and at best an expression of a lowly,
herd-like survival instinct.
After the Summoning the Past ep the band appears to have taken some kind of break. Was this a decision in order to develop the sound of a bit further and maybe even in a slightly different direction? At least the sound of the 2015 album Conquest suggest as much.
Yes. It took time to figure out how to properly express the ideas that
would become Conquest, Ghosts of a World Long Forgotten, and the next album
– all of which have been worked on more or less in parallel.
How does Conquest fit into the broader concept of Beithíoch? Will there be more music of this type in the future?
I don’t see Conquest and Ghosts of
a World Long Forgotten as being that dissimilar. Ghosts has simpler
underlying song structures, but more detail in the additional melodic
overlays, counterpoint etc, whereas Conquest had, for the most part, longer
What would this album be about? Judging from the track titles it appears to be divided into two parts with the track The Mocking Winds That Scourge the Land as a dividing track. First the conquest of a piece of land by some force and then the silence thereafter.
All of the album’s lyrics are based on historical events, with the
exception of The Silence of the Grave, which is more a personal meditation
on mortality. Skirmish is about the Viking raids on monasteries such as
Iona and Lindisfarne, The Fury of the Sea is about the Rathlin Island
massacre in 1575, Smashing the Shrines of the Fallen is about the
destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70AD, Conquerors is about the
First Crusade, Dominion is told from the perspective of a general just
before the battle of Kinsale 1601. There is a deliberate arc, much like you
described – from turmoil, to contemplation, to battle, to desolation. The
overall message: war, atrocity, famine, murder etc are eternally recurring
and unsuppressable parts of being human.
"Time Buries All Things" is this not more of a hope than a reality that will be established? Is there not the danger of creating the myths of a time that has never been and that some forces try too establish again? The poison of idealized romanticism of times that have gone and to whom long to see again?
Everything dies. Every monument will shatter or fade. Time will bury
everything and everyone. Romanticism for the past can be intoxicating, and
of course it is always imaginary. But I don’t necessarily think it is
unhealthy. The alternative is to feel yourself disconnected from anything
that came before you and anything that shall come afterwards. Whether or
not it is a truthful representation is perhaps less important than whether
or not it helps to get you through to the next day without wanting to kill
Is this how your latest release Ghosts of a World Long Forgotten could or even should be read? Does it take some of the ideas from the previous album and continues then at some other point? If not, then what would this album be all about?
Yes, it is to an extent. The title track is certainly about that. The album
as a whole is envisaged as a journey into the depths of time (The Abyss of
Time), to glimpse fragments of lives lived in harder, more primitive times.
Whether or not it is real though is of course part of what the album is
Since Conquest and Ghosts of a World Long Forgotten appear in a rather short order, it would be nice to know whether all of the ideas in terms of riffs, sounds and arrangements go back to the break between 2012 and 2015. How have you approached them in terms of song-writing.
Many of the initial ideas on Ghosts go back even farther; one track for
example originally appeared on a 2007 demo. The lyrics and arrangements
though, particularly any of the contrapuntal/melodic leads, are all newer.
Conquest, apart from perhaps the odd riff, was certainly written in that
time period. My approach on both was to refine again and again until I got
each track as close to what I felt it should be.
On this latest output Conquest and Ghosts of a World ambient elements play a larger role again and also their sound has changed since your early releases. It reminds on space ambient at times. Could you elaborate on the change and sound as well as on why those elements need a place in your music?
I felt I needed a bigger scope than was offered by just the typical 2
guitars, 1x bass & drums instrumental set up. Synths and faux-orchestral
parts would’ve felt overblown, so I just started layering guitar parts,
working on very deliberate additional melodic components and an atmospheric
production that would complement it. Summoning were an influence, in the
sense that they typically overlay a lot of different elements, but the
approach is clearly not quite the same. Other than that, only classical
music served as an influence – Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, Tallis etc.
It is a curious thing to find information on the lyrics on your latest release, because these can be found on neither of your previous outputs. Why is this the case and what do your lyrics deal with?
I decided to stop being childish about it. If lyrics were going to be
written, they may as well be read as well. As said above, Conquest is
mostly historically influenced stories, Ghosts is an entirely imagined
past, nearer maybe to the Paleolithic or Neolithic, which we know
relatively little about.
How do you approach the issue of texts and music? Judging from the structures on your latest release, they appear to be rather free and not bound to a rhythmic structure. Is this due the limitation that such a concept would impose on the band and their sound?
The lyrics are the last thing written, they’re fitted to the music. The
music is the focus, moreso than the lyrics as a separate artefact. Works
better to approach them more like a micro-story than a poem.
When will your latest release be available on a disk or tape? It is a bit surprising to see it only in a digital format.
Ideally I’d work with a label to release this album on physical format,
since it’s simply more efficient. At present that isn’t happening, but may
later on. My immediate priority was to get the music heard, however
Aisling Dhorcha has seen a re-release on disk lately. Has the music been remastered? Is there something special to this edition? Are you still satisfied with this release, as its sound differs a bit from what you release as of late.
The mix is updated slightly from what some people may have heard, if they
have the album from a very early version, but it hasn’t been recently
remastered. Lyrics are printed on the inner sleeve, for the first time.
It’s been unavailable in physical form for a while before now, so this
re-release addresses that. If I were to record the album now it would sound
quite different, but it belongs to its time.
Do you plan on releasing your latest output Ghosts of a World Long Forgotten in some kind of physical form in the future?
Closing comments if you like.
Thank you for the thoughtful interview. Both Conquest and Ghosts of a World
Long Forgotten are available from http://beithioch.bandcamp.com, Conquest
is still available on CD.