#Veilburner 🇺🇸 #Interview

13 min read

Three is a magic number, they say, and so it’s with pleasure — and a certain sense of cosmic symmetry — that we welcome back Veilburner for a third time (following first in 2019 and then again last year). The Extreme Metal duo of multi-instrumentalist Mephisto Deleterio and vocalist Chrisom Infernium always have plenty of insight into their fascinating, musical explorations. With the release of the duo’s excellent latest album VLBRNR (out December 2nd on Transcending Obscurity Records) just around the corner there was plenty to discuss.

Hello and thanks for once again doing an interview with me for Blessed Altar Zine. It’s always a treat to get a new Veilburner album to chew on and then be given a little peek behind the curtain.

You went for a minimalist title with this one — calling the album VLBRNR — what was the reasoning behind this very straight-up title this time around?

MD:  From a music perspective, this one really felt like a statement piece in comparison with previous albums, in that I was taking all of what I felt were the best components of our sound and songwriting that we’ve cultivated over the course of five previous albums, and refining them into a single album which I feel offers the best representation of who we are and what we do.  If someone only had time to listen to one album from us, and asked us which one would give them the best overall impression of our work, I would tell them “VLBRNR.”  We also wanted to move away from a long album title this time since our last two albums (The “Sire…” and “Lurkers…” duology) had long titles, and it seemed like it was time to mix it up with something short and direct this time.  

CI: Adding on to what Mephisto stated is the fact he had no conceptual boundaries this time around so it felt a lot like when we wrote the Obscene Rite where he was able to just go and blend all that we had done so far into a sorta master album of what Veilburner has become up to this point while also adding a sneak peak into the future. The only restraint was what someone already figured out was that we wanted ten songs so each title would spell out VEILBURNER as a nod to our name and also to work with the story we were going to be creating.

From the previous conversations we’ve had this album should be the final part of a conceptual trilogy — linking together with A Sire To The Ghouls of Lunacy and Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull. What can you reveal to readers/ listeners about how VLBRNR brings this story to its conclusion?

CI: From a concept standpoint the whole of the idea evolved even more so from the last time we talked. At that time we were seeing VLBRNR as a piece of the last two albums the same way that the first three albums worked as a trilogy, albums four and five acted more as a duology versus being apart of another trilogy. With VLBRNR I realized as it was coming together that it played into the last two albums so well conceptually that I started seeing it more as a trilogy at that point. Currently I would say VLBRNR is also the beginning of a four album concept. As it will be a bridge piece(literally) between the first five albums and the next three albums being seven through nine. To finally answer your question though, VLBRNR was chosen because its six letters, albeit consonants and it worked very well into the overall concept that was taking shape. The consonants tell the main story of VLBRNR as the vowels tell a side story to the concept that works in the whole of the Veilburner universe up to this point. Also six is the number of man.

In terms of studio techniques was there anything you were trying out for the first time with this release?

MD:  Yes.  Musically, there is a new drum mix.  I’ve been using Superior Drummer 3 to make the drum tracks since the “Sire…” album, but for the “VLBRNR” album, I’ve modified the kit and how it’s mixed and I’m happier with the sound.  The drums are clearer, have more punch, and allow more room for the other instruments and vocals to come through in the mix. Other than that, there are a few new guitar settings and effects here and there (particularly in the song “Ruin”), but most are from the stable of sounds and effects I’ve been building over the course of the first five albums that I’ve grown to love, and consider vital to our recipe.    

VLBRNR is unmistakably Veilburner (for anyone familiar with past albums), but there are moments where it feels like you’re stretching out and going in new directions. Were there any particular novel influences this time around or anything different you wanted to explore with your performances?

MD:  I have to go back in my mind to late 2018 and early 2019 to remember, since that’s when I wrote and recorded most of this material.  I remember really getting into the movie Mandy after hearing and reading about it, and loving the whole vibe and soundtrack.  There’s an instrumental track towards the end of the album, called “Exhibition in Limbo” that was directly inspired by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score.  It also serves as a tribute, since he unfortunately passed away shortly after completing it.  

The third song on the album, “Interim Oblivion” was actually something I wrote back in 2008 after my old band dissolved.  I was just writing a lot of songs during that time to stay busy, but didn’t have any plans for finishing or releasing them.  This one was always one of my favorites from this time period, especially that quiet jazzy part in the middle, so I decided to re-record it, make a few updates, and give it a home on this release.  

For this album, I made an effort to streamline the songs since I knew I wanted to have ten tracks, and didn’t want the album length to get out of control.  Our last two albums had a lot of stuff in the six and seven plus minute range, so as a change of pace I wanted to try to keep more of these songs in the five to six minute range to give them more immediacy and not risk overstaying their welcome or pushing the limits of people’s patience.  A few of them are a little longer because they needed a little more time for the ideas to be fully expressed, and I wasn’t going to compromise what felt natural.

CI:  I can not recall anything in particular since it has been sometime now since we wrote the album but I really feel like I “found myself” when we had finished writing it. Listening back to it I realized lyrically and this was actually while writing album seven also that everything worked on a level mentally and spiritually that I hadn’t even realized yet. VLBRNR is/was my way of realizing we as individuals are the abyss. VLBRNR is our guide into the abyss!

You’ve spoken before about how far ahead of release schedules you are with your recordings. How many Veilburner projects do you already have in the can waiting to go and what can people expect next time around?

MD:   We recently turned in the next album (which will be our seventh) to Kunal at Transcending Obscurity.  Musically, it will revolve around the number seven.  There are seven songs, and each song is exactly seven minutes long.  Songs three and four (which add up to seven) will be a fourteen minute, two part, conceptual epic.  The album title, song titles, and lyrical stanzas will all be multiples of seven syllables in length.

I can’t stress enough that despite the whole idea sounding seemingly very convoluted, we went to great lengths to ensure that everything has a natural-sounding flow and there is not a single point where anyone will feel like songwriting quality or album flow is being compromised to conform to some gimmick.  We are absolute sticklers for quality songwriting and an engaging album flow above all else, and nothing makes me cringe more than when bands, artists and filmmakers get too self-indulgent and lost in high-concept gimmickery when trying to chase artistic cred, and forget to make their work digestible or connectable with anyone. It would be like a chef serving people spoiled or undercooked/overcooked food, but expecting the diners to marvel at the spices, garnish or presentation. It just doesn’t work.  It only works when every ingredient and element of the whole is solid and plays nice with each other, and we’re extremely happy with the way everything seemed to naturally pull together for us when crafting the album.  If we ever came to a point where it just wasn’t working out to our standards, we would have abandoned the idea and moved on, but we’re thrilled that it progressed and developed so naturally, and it will be interesting to hear how it’s received.  I think Transcending Obscurity is going to try to get it out in late 2023 or early 2024.  

Other than that, we have the music for the eighth album finished, and we are in the process of working on the lyrics, titles, and themes.  I have just started working on the music for the 9th album, and at the time of this writing I have the first song finished.

CI: The future is very bright and I feel like we just keep growing and even though seven had a lot going on with it idea wise, it is an extremely organic album. Seven is my magnum opus lyrically up to this point, I am proud of everything we have done so far but as I mentioned earlier, on a personal level album seven answers everything I was searching for and helped me realize those answers were with me all along.

As a little fantasy exercise if you could bring in anyone to collaborate on a future Veilburner project, who would you like to work with and why?

MD:  I took a bit of time to think about this one.  If it were for a Veilburner album, I wouldn’t want it to be someone I would have to share the music writing duties with, since it’s my own personal sanctuary and I’d be hesitant to change that or let someone else in at this point.  I would definitely want it to be a drummer, for practical reasons.  That would get me out of having to program the drum tracks, which would be a huge time-saver for me and would add more authenticity to the finished product, which I think people would appreciate, especially those who don’t like programmed drums. It would need to be someone who could take direction and learn the parts quickly and intuitively, show up on time and be reliable.  Basically, a solid session drummer with a good reputation who we could have an easy working relationship and potential friendship with, and there are lots of good ones.  Back in 2005, I had a band called The Tenth Circle and we hired Tim Yeung to do session drums for our album.  He had just finished a stint with Vital Remains and was looking to move out to the west coast, so we helped each other out.  We got a great drummer to play on our album and he got money to help with his relocation.  He was fantastic to work with, very professional, and knew exactly what we wanted.  He got the job done quickly and we had a good time doing it.  I’d definitely work with him again if we could budget for his time and a good studio to record him in. I’d love to catch up with him and hear about his experiences in Divine Heresy, Morbid Angel, and all of the other stuff he’s been involved in since he went out west.  

If it wasn’t a Veilburner project, I would be very tempted to want to work with Vindsval of Blut Aus Nord if I had the opportunity, if for no other reason than just to bear witness to what goes on behind the curtain of mystery that surrounds that whole project.  To learn how he gets those tones, and how his mind works to come up with those bizzare, otherworldly progressions and melodies would be an experience.  But it’s kind of a double-edged sword.  Part of what makes that project so special to me is the fact that they play everything very close to the chest, and are very selective in what they reveal, so peering behind the curtain might only serve to disenchant, and I wouldn’t want that. I also wouldn’t want to be that guy hanging around and being in the way unless I’m actively contributing something, and I certainly wouldn’t expect an artist like that to be willing to just let a stranger into their inner world, for the same reason that I’m reluctant to let another contributing songwriter into ours.  A lot of times, the things you want to insert yourself into are better left alone, to admire from a distance, and be inspired by while you continue to search for your own sound or voice.  If you can do that and manage to come up with something that connects with people, you have a better chance of being inspirational to others, and paying it forward.  That’s how you can ensure that something you created will live on and have an effect on people after you’re gone.  It’s the closest thing to immortality people can achieve, and something that we all yearn for at our core.    

CI: This question is very hard to answer. For one reason I am in other projects and those projects combined haven’t released the amount of material Veilburner has in the time we have been together. I want to mention that because we work so easily together and its always a worry that with any project the more people involved the more schedules come in to play and also other ideas. If it was a simple collaboration of sorts I would love to have Attila Csihar or Wrest from Leviathan lay down some vocals or possibly Daniel from Marduk. A throwback would be Glen Benton, all of these guys are heavy influences on me and I would love to see how they work behind the scenes, they all have skin in the game and I feel like I could learn a lot from them not only as musicians but as people.

This is around the time of year that music writers love to put out album-of-the-year lists. Which releases stand out as the 2022 highlights for the both of you?

MD:  To be honest, I haven’t listed to much new music this year.  I’m getting to that point in my life where I don’t keep up as much with current goings-on in the music scene, and spend more time re-listening to stuff I’m already familiar with. However, there have been some things that caught my ear this year.  I just heard Zeal & Ardor for the first time this year when they released their new album back in February, and I became an instant fan.  “The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain” really connected with me, and I spun that quite a bit.  Blut Aus Nord‘s “Disharmonium-Undreamable Abysses” was one that I was anticipating obviously, and I was happy to hear them bring back elements of the sound they forged in the mid ’00s.  I also really liked the album that our labelmates Sisyphean put out this year (“Colors of Faith”).  They’re touring right now with Ulcerate and Mgła, which sounds like a wonderful opportunity for them, and to get people more exposed to Transcending Obscurity artists.    

CI: As I get older I really stick to my usuals, there are some that I find through the year but honestly the years blend together, I was going to say Portal but that was 2021. I still list Leviathan’s “Scar Sighted” because it still feels so fresh. I will second MD with BAN’s Disharmonium-Undreamable Abysses”,also DSO’s “The Long Defeat”.

One that is a fave of mine not only because musically they are on their own level but more so because they are good friends of ours is IATT’s “Magnum Opus”, I feel like they are on the precipice of becoming a very well known band and deservingly so. They have been working their asses off and “Magnum Opus” reflects that. Another one that released that is a local gem is Zauberei’s “The Hexerei Suite”. It’s a live recording ep that is helping to rejuvenate the local black metal scene and I am sure as they continue to build will also be a name that becomes common place within the hearts of many.

I’m sure if I sat longer I could come up with more for sure, I know 2022 was very fruitful in terms of great releases but I am usually late to the party anymore.

If you have any final thoughts, or anything else you’d like to mention, please go ahead.

MD:  We continue to appreciate the interest of Blessed Altar Zine in our work, as well as the other outlets who routinely promote our releases.  Enjoy this release, and look out for the next album sooner rather than later.  I think Transcending Obscurity’s 2023 label sampler in January will contain one of the tracks from the next album, so be prepared for stuff to just keep coming down the pipeline from us.  We appreciate their dedication to keeping the momentum going.    

CI: Thank you for having continued interest in our music and helping us give people a little insight into what makes us tick. To all of the listeners and also anyone who has taken the time to read this, thank you, we never thought we would receive as much attention as we have and to know people are interested in what we are doing creatively is beyond amazing but also extremely humbling. Again, Thanks.

Interview by Tom Osman

Thanks to Mephisto and Chrisom for their time. VLBRNR is out on Transcending Obscurity Records on December 2nd. Check out the album on the links below and follow the duo on all social media to keep up to date with everything in the world of Veilburner.

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