Like so many others, Kim Kelly discovered superb Swedish black/death practitioners IRKALLIAN ORACLE online and was immediately blown away by the immediate quality and authoritative tone of their demo, and after being name-checked by Bestial Mockery’s Master Motorsag in Iron Fist #6 she tracked them down to find out more. The following Q&A sheds a few beams of light on their dark intentions…
Those behind the project have clearly had plenty of experience in writing and playing music, but choose not to divulge their past efforts, or indeed, any identities at all. It can be difficult for bands to preserve their anonymous status without seeming to resort to gimmickry; Ghost used it to their advantage and Dragged Into Sunlight have their members’ professional lives to consider, but then again, they inhabit a very, very different world from Irkallian Oracle. What is the purpose of your anonymity?
“I actually never claimed to be anonymous at all but simply have chosen not to display and discuss such matters publicly as we see no valid point in weltering in our egos and past endeavours when focus should be laid on Irkallian Oracle and nothing else. Paradoxically I would say that our human faces and names actually hide the very things we really wish to communicate and they also reveal a lot less than our veiled ones. In taking on the role as a medium, an oracle of something beyond oneself, it seems to us natural to step aside personally and let that very thing which is meant to be expressed to be centre of focus instead. So, it is a way for us to turn the attention both for the sake of ourselves as mediums as well as for the observer, beyond our personas limited by flesh, time and space and move it towards the source of our art that is something ungraspable and limitless. As such, I believe anonymity essentially is a way for people to hide things, to create a distance between the artist and the observer. What we are doing is instead more or less the exact opposite where we aim at bridging the abyss between the unknown and known and actually to reveal that which is hidden behind the mundane aspects of our existence.”
Your message is much more complex and esoteric than initially meets the eye, especially when one considers your goal to “musically and lyrically explore the ecstatic mysteries of abysmal infinitude.” It’s a sight more difficult to understand than ‘Crush, Kill, Destroy’ or ‘Sex, drink and Metal’, but obviously holds significance within the metal world, and particularly as of late, as more and more bands begin to emphasise their connection and reverence for the idea of Death.
“The passage you quoted above as our artistic goal is more or less to be considered ‘layman’s terms’ of something very much more technical if we are to look deeper into it. Nevertheless, I believe that what is aimed at expressing with those very words is, well, something utterly inexpressible. We aim to communicate that which can’t be defined and limited to either music or words, so principally we are ironically involved in an impossible mission. Our music and lyrics are but meditations on the incomprehensible infinitude of “the abyss” (the primordial state of everything as ontologically endless or free from subjective reality) and varied forms of its boundless nature. The integration with this intangible ‘unknown’ is what usually is defined as ‘mysteries’ or unveilings of different stations of awareness or existential states, which can be thought of as ‘ecstatic’ as they transgress the limitations of the given/known and the rational ground of human comprehension. Although this might sound like nonsense to the usual metalhead, we find this artistic vision very well aligned with what we really comprehend to be the essence of black and death metal. Sarcófago’s vision of it all might have slightly differed to some degree (as a response to the ‘Sex, drinks and metal’ reference) but looking further than at a small number of adolescent banalities to be found among their material, I believe that we essentially are doing the exact same thing with Irkallian Oracle, yet presenting it in a, shall we say, more ‘refined’ manner.”
How does a black/death metal song serve as an exploration or adulation of a concept like Death or the Void? It seems like a painting or written text would make for a more efficient vehicle for such esoteric matters, but you’ve chosen this particular medium for a reason.
“Obviously we work with the written word as well as visual art as means to convoy the revelatory aims of our art as whole. Still music is something that works on such a direct and subtle level that makes it into such a highly effective medium for that which we fail to express by our logically fixed language. Also, the painted image is usually not much more than a mere representation of things in the outside world. Music on the other hand, surpasses the world shaped by matter or reason and rather works directly on a mental level. But of course we do not deny that also other mediums of expression are of great evocative value and that’s why we also try to do our best in using these as well to channel our intended vision.”
Irkalla could be described as a Babylonian version of hell, ruled over by the goddess Ereshkigal and populated by the rotting bodies of the dead. What initially drew you to this story and away from the typical themes of Satan, war, and the like? The world of Irkalla seems like a cold, dreary, chaotic place – a forewarning of what our own world may eventually devolve into if we carry on as we are.
“Well, looking at it both from a historical perspective I’m quite inclined to say that the Christian concept of hell is nothing more than a failed version of the original Irkalla and a result of spiritual retardation and an utterly childish understanding of ontology, compared to the ancient Babylonians who had a lot more dynamic and evolved vision of the afterlife. Irkalla for us represents the primordial as well as final ground of the spirit that is reached by a transcendental movement beyond all restrictions of body, mind and soul. It is a station of complete nakedness from which we all have emerged and shall once again return, and although it might be thought to be dreary and harmful it is only so from the perspective of those that cling on to their illusive perceptions of reality which must be removed and discarded before one has reached the nethermost depths of Irkalla’s kingdom. What might seem to be horrid, monstrous and even evil is usually nothing else than that which collides with our all too limited horizons, forcing us into getting a wider image of the world. Irkallian Oracle, in this sense, is our way to give a voice to this seemingly disturbing, yet in reality liberating, essence.”
Do you regard yourselves as a mouthpiece for the forces that inspire you? Your name itself, the oracle of Irkalla, conveys a sense of responsibility and knowledge to spread to the unknowing.
“In a sense we are like everyone else; mere humans, with all the flaws that entail, yet we, by our art as well as the whole of our lives, try our best to use it to move beyond the usual grounds of existential awareness. The forces that are involved in doing this are naturally those that we understand and experience as the most sublime and holy aspects of reality as such and so we wish nothing else than to cultivate and let them live, speak and act through us in whatever manner that might be. So, yes it should most probably be viewed as a mission of sorts, but we hardly wish to force any kind of opinion on anyone and all are welcomed to take part of our art on their own terms. Still, we can’t deny that we see this band is nothing else than an extension of our empirical exploration of matters that we view as so profoundly great and beautiful that we won’t hesitate to spread them to anyone who is willing to listen.”
Your debut ‘Grave Ekstasis’ sold out ages ago, and a re-release is planned on Nuclear War Now! later this year, correct? What are your plans for your next release?
“You are correct. The CD/LP version of ‘Grave Ekstasis’ should be out before 2013 has ended. We are now working on a new album that might come to be recorded at the end of next year, although it is all too early to give any absolute timeline for it yet. Although we are only in the beginning of the process of putting the material for it together I believe it is safe to say that we will continue in the same direction of our last release, but move it further into the abyss by making it even more dark, dynamic and more work better as whole.
(This interview was originally published in Iron Fist #7)
Copyright © 2020 Iron Fist Magazine. All Rights Reserved.