British black metal to me is Cradle of Filth and a bunch of smaller bands. But it is in there, with the smaller bands that you find the gold corns. Like FORMICARIUS. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
You have one of these names that does not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-The Formicarius is one of the earliest texts relating to witchcraft. The name felt appropriate for the 15th century European occult themes and setting associated with black metal and also suited the image we adopted, so on the contrary I would say the name vividly reflects black metal. With that in mind, it wasn’t difficult to come up with; we shortlisted a bunch of names relating to similar themes and settings and picked the best one.
Could you give us a short introduction to the band?
-Formicarius is a collective of the best handpicked UK extreme metal veterans to create the most ambitious, gargantuan black metal sound band possible. Our single released last year serves only as an appetizer of what’s to come. Listen to the music and let ‘Lake of the Dead’ wash over you as you consider this; if this is where we begin, how much more do we have in store for you? Our single is all the introduction you need.
What would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-Music is all about letting your experience of life influence your art. One experience we all shared is years of appreciation for the musical ferocity of Emperor, which made our cover of ‘Cosmic Keys…’ a no brainer. Otherwise I’d have to say it’s simply our appreciation of Extreme Metal on the whole – we never had any doubts as to the type of music we wanted to create together, for whatever reason we’ve all arrived at this place listening to and creating very abrasive, aggressive music.
What is the scene like in your area? Do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-UK Black Metal is very much alive and I’d struggle to believe it’s ever been this exciting. There are a lot of very interesting things happening musically – really high quality bands pouring their souls into their art, each with a unique voice and take on the genre. I couldn’t image a better time to be a part of the scene; it’s the right balance of camaraderie and competition, everyone being pushed to their extremes to create the best they can. On a less macro level I think the sprawling metropolis of London speaks for itself. There’s a myriad of shows on every week because the demand is huge. We’re spoilt for choice and that’s a great problem to have – everyone wants to play London! Again I firmly believe it comes down to leaving behind the childish poser attitudes which have plagued black metal for so long – bands want to play and people want to experience that. It’s not taken for granted, nobody thinks you’re cool for cry wanking to Deathcrush in your basement.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-I would say so, and that’s what I mean when talking about the culture of the UK scene. There’s a revolution in attitude, and that is a great thing to be a part of. On a less social level and all of positives aside, it’s still important to think of your band as it’s own entity. You are not your scene, you’re allowed to evolve and experiment and be creative – a celebration of the music is never meant to stifle it. I’m not bothered about what anyone else is doing, but I may be inspired by the kickass music and events I get to be a part of, be that as a performer or a spectator. Everyone who is actually out there being a part of a bigger, greater movement gets that, and that lends itself to UK bands being so creative and unique.
When you play the sort of music you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-A great album cover goes hand in hand with the music to reflect the feeling of the music. There isn’t a checklist for this. Compare In the Nightside Eclipse, Storm of the Light’s Bane and Victory Songs, all album covers by Kristian Wåhlin. Each reflects the mood, tone, setting – the music of each record specifically. They’re all completely different despite despite having certain qualities in common, such as all being done by the same artist and all having had a lot of thought put into them by someone who really listened to the albums. This is the only quality I look for in album art, and it takes a great and specific kind of artist to interpret music visually and onto paper like this. What would be really interesting is if one was to make the album cover first and the music after the fact…
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-Digital is the way most people listen to music now, that’s the reality and you have to suck it up and work with it. Complaining about digital music is akin to crying because it’s raining. CD killed Vinyl – who cares, it’s just materialism. Music was alive before industry, it’ll take a lot more than .mp3 to kill it! I really have no time for tunnel-visioned dinosaurs from a not-so-golden-era pissing and moaning about not having the resources to self destruct from selling four chords anymore. If anything the digital revolution has put some real heart back into a bleak, bloated, self indulgent industry. It’s fantastic for growth, for creativity, sharing ideas and keeping artists honest. I couldn’t be happier to be alive and creating at a time when music is digitized.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-As mentioned earlier there’s a massive live scene for black and extreme metal in the UK and London for those who want to be a part of it. There’s no shortage of talented musicians and opportunities to play unsigned nights, support bigger bands, play festivals and generally be out there being a band. We’re very lucky to be part of such a cultivated scene.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-We often refer to our live performances as exhibitions. Parties are pretty common, where as we play our set maybe once a year in your town – you’d better be paying attention! The party comes after the exhibition.
What would you like to see the future bring?
-More bigger and better opportunities! Anything and everything to keep us working our asses off to do our best, to be the best at what we do. There is no limit to our ambition as Formicarius, we’re here to infest every corner of the earth! We will take our music globally, anything the future brings to aid us will most certainly be well received.