Interview with Procession of Black Doom Fanzine

Hails James and the guys in Mhorgl – Sam and Robert. Please introduce yourselves and the project to the respected reader.

JAMES: Mhorgl is a project that is evolving. I am not sure how to define the music exactly and I am not sure if it should be categorised at the moment. For the sake of simplicity, Dark Metal is probably the best description of Mhorgl's music. When I originally started writing material for what was to become Mhorgl, it was deliberately basic, monotone black metal inspired music written very quickly and without much thought. It was a contrived minimalistic approach and the results just didn't feel very natural. It didn't feel right. Then when Sam started coming up with lyrical ideas it was obvious there needed to be a progression in the musical style. There was a shift toward more epic and diverse material on our first demo ‘The Shadow of Morgoth’ and this was carried on with ‘The Sacrificial Flame’, our second release. Lyrically Mhorgl is not tied to a particular theme. The lyrics are dark but not related to a certain philosophy or the occult, etc. ‘The Sacrificial Flame’ dealt with the theme of sacrifice in various forms. I would say that Mhorgl's aim is to create a dark, fantastical atmosphere, musically and lyrically. Mhorgl's line-up consists of Robert Thorpe - lead guitar, bass and some vocals, Sam Moretta - vocalist and lyricist and James Campbell - guitar, bass and drum programming.

Could you tell us about the meaning of the name Mhorgl and the musical and lyrical inspiration for your music?

SAM: The name Mhorgl comes from the word “Morgul”, taken from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It refers to the vale in Mordor that has been perverted into a horribly corrupt version of its former self and is home to the Witch-King and his minions. I think musically and lyrically, we hope to achieve the same sort of effect that Tolkien’s vivid descriptions do with his writings; create a dark and disturbing atmosphere that the listener can lose themselves in, that sort of thing. This doesn’t make us a Tolkien-band in the vein of Summoning, etc, as there’s only the one song that actually draws lyrical content from Lord of the Rings, it’s more trying to tap into the vibe of the place. With regards to the actual spelling of Mhorgl, I feel it’s a more accurate phonetic depiction of the word.

To date you have done one demo and one full-length album. What are your thoughts about how the recordings went and the results they produced?

JAMES: I am reasonably happy with both the recordings. Both have been a learning process, technically and musically, but looking back there is huge scope for improvement. All the old material could benefit from reworking and re-recording but we need to move forward. Mhorgl still hasn't found its sound or direction yet in my opinion. I think there have been moments on the recordings when you can catch a glimpse of what a fully realised Mhorgl track will sound like, but we haven't achieved it yet.

SAM: I think the whole recording and song-writing process has gone exceptionally well, considering the fact that we have yet to have one single rehearsal as a band! James has done a great job recording, mixing and mastering the final product, especially in regards to the drums. They don’t sound like your average drum machine at all.

The drums on this recording have come out particularly well. I am curious as to what you used here. Do you have any advice for other home recording enthusiasts on the use of programmed drums?

JAMES: The drums were programmed using EzDrummer, a midi drum sample program which makes things fairly simple by providing heaps of patterns and fills etc but you still have to muck about a lot to get them to fit into a song structure and get the right feel. I couldn't offer much advice as I am working at a very basic level when it come to drum programming, basically just learning as I go and it's a hard thing to get right.

Are there any plans to perform live?

SAM: Yes definitely, I think everyone has aspirations to play live. But there is of course the matter of finding a competent and available drummer.

JAMES: Yeah, it would be great to play live. I think writing material has been the priority so far however and writing for us has been a personal thing. We collaborate but never in the same room really. We haven't had the drive to play live that I think you get if you’re rehearsing as a full band all the time.

I understand that you, James, have been involved in extreme music from the early 90’s. Could you tell the reader that may not be aware of your history that far back a little about your previous projects?

JAMES: I was involved in an extreme metal project called Infected in the early to mid 90's. The band started out playing death/doom material inspired by bands like early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride and Carcass but progressed to playing more industrial influenced music. We put out a couple of full length releases and three demos between 1991 and 1996 before the band split up. I was also involved in Black Metal project called Tyrant with Robert during the same period. Tyrant released a 5 track demo of material that I would say is similar in spirit to Mhorgl's material. There were very basic black metal elements mixed up with more experimental flourishes. Sam was previously involved with a symphonic black metal band called Avantgard who put out a CD called ‘Wolves of Nocturne’ a few years ago.

Speaking of Tyrant and Avantgard – what happened to those projects?

SAM: Avantgard started off very promisingly, we recorded an album and played a number of live shows, but unfortunately differences in musical direction caused the band to dissipate. Most members are still actively playing and recording here in Perth though. As mentioned before, the recording we made was eventually released a year or two after we disbanded, and is still available.

I understand that you have taken the approach of minimising your presence on the internet at least to some degree. One won’t find Mhorgl on the very popular MySpace but you do use Audiostreet. Any thoughts on the use of the internet to promote extreme music and the internet in general?

JAMES: I don't really have a problem with using the internet for promoting bands or music so I wouldn't say we had been deliberately minimizing our web presence. We just have not actively promoted the band that much so far. I originally started using Audiostreet simply to host some song samples until we get out own website up and running and that is basically how we have always used it.

A question about the album art – I understand it is yours and bears the mark of an experienced artist. What can you tell us about your art?

JAMES: Yes, I produced the artwork for the covers of both ‘The Shadow of Morgoth’ and ‘The Sacrificial Flame’. I am a Graphic Designer by profession but I haven't actually done much drawing or painting for years. I used to do a bit of artwork for bands and fanzines during the early to mid-nineties but finding time to do it was difficult so I stopped.

The artwork for ‘The Sacrificial Flame’ cover depicts a child being sacrifice to Moloch, an ancient deity worshipped in Jerusalem around the time of Solomon. Children were placed in the hands of a bull headed statue of Moloch that was heated red hot and they burned to death. Priests played drums to drown out the screams of the dying children. It is a rather fanciful depiction as I want to make the statue look more like an armoured demon as it better represented the image I had in my mind of this great beast rising out of a flaming pit. The instrumental track on the album, Behold the Horrid King (Moloch, the abomination of the Children of Ammon) is the musical depiction of the image.

What in particular about the legend of Moloch inspired has inspired you to choose that image to the album? How does it tie in with Tolkien (if at all)?

JAMES: The last 6 tracks on the recording are all inspired by descriptions of the Ben Himmon valley outside Jerusalem. In ancient times it was used as a garbage dump and kept constantly buring to dispose of the refuse of the city. The Christian concept of Hell as a place of fire and punishment is said to have derived from this place. It was near there that the sacrifices to Moloch took place. The fire and demonic imagery associated with Moloch seemed appropriate for the cover and the title of the CD. There is no tie in with Tolkien. Only one of Mhorgl's songs has been inspired by Tolkien but unfortunately I choose to use that song as inspiration for the cover artwork of our demo and that is what people have chosen to focus on.

What music are you guys listening to at the moment? Have there been any surprises/disappointments?

SAM: I’ve been trying to stay up to date with the current releases but there have just been so many it’s been nearly impossible. There’s been a number of surprisingly good new releases over the past year including Limbonic Art, Deathspell Omega, Trelldom, Watain, and so on. And in between I still maintain a healthy dose of old Darkthrone, Dissection, and other classic bands/albums.

JAMES: Deathspell Omega have impressed me with their last few releases. I like the variation and atmosphere in their material.

Can we expect a new recording and how soon?

SAM: Yes, there is more new material in the works. The tracks are still in their early stages of development, but they’re showing a lot of promise. I would be optimistic in saying that we hope to release something later this year, but we’ll see how it goes.

Thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best in the future.

SAM: Cheers for having us.

JAMES: Thanks for the interview. If anyone is interested in hearing Mhorgl's music we have a promo CD featuring 4 full tracks from “The Sacrificial Flame” CD available for free. The full “The Sacrificial Flame” recording is available as a pro-duplicated CD-R with cover and inlay for $10 AUD.

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