After early demo tapes, Apochryphal Revelation released their debut full-length in 2017 from a rather unlikely corner of the earth for the style they are playing: Kentucky, USA. Their album, “Reverence for the Kings of Hell”, was first and foremost a tribute to the ancient, occult black metal sound from places like Greece, Czech, or Italy. With riffs and song structures that are reminiscent of Varathron or Master’s Hammer, “Reverence…” was a clear manifest of the black metal sound where this band’s heart was. Their dedication to the old school was not limited to only Apochryphal Revelation either: amongst other projects of the members, Tartarus Gate (which had their only output so far released on Barbarian Wrath), was also covered in our guide to obscure mysteries last year.
Even though initially their debut album flew quite under the radar for majority, three years later the name Apochryphal Revelation emerged again, this time announced by Nuclear War Now! Productions. From the initial announcement I had high hopes for their new album and I knew generally where in black metal sphere it would fall sonically – even though I was mostly right about how it would sound, there is some big differences between both albums.
This time around with their second full-length, “Primeval Devilish Wisdom” they go deeper and darker to reach the eerie, occult atmosphere than the debut. Instead of following the more-developed mid-90s sound of occult black metal like Varathron’s full-lengths, Master’s Hammer’s first two, or Mortuary Drape’s albums, this time the band reaches for the more primitive, bare-bones depths of the style. Think of how quietly eerie first two Mystifier or Nectomantia albums get, or how raw and primivite very early Greek black metal demos feel (“Passage to Arcturo“, “Black Arts / Everlasting Sins“…) and that’s the whereabouts of Apochryphal Revelation nowadays with their new album. Heavy use of bass guitar, the thick atmosphere, fair bit of early, doomy death metal in the sound here and there – and this is a branch of old school black metal that was quite forgotten for the longest time, but with current acts like Cemetery Lights, Ysengrin, Ithaqua, or Apochryphal Revelation following this untrodden path in recent times, there seems to be a rekindled interest in the old ways.
“Primeval Devilish Wisdom” is coming out on the 1st of November from Nuclear War Now! Productions. Here, as a Ride Into Glory exclusive, you can hear the album in full and read our chat with Master of Graveyard Torment, main man behind the band.
Three years of silence after “Reverence for the Kings of Hell” and now you are back, this time on Nuclear War Now! as well. Have you always been working on possible new material (be it for Apochryphal Revelation or any other band you are in) or does it come in small bursts to you?
Material for AR does indeed come in manic bursts of inspiration. Some tracks on “Primeval…” date back to the beginning of the band, some are reworkings of previous songs and others were relatively recent. It is very much a process of divination with myself and the guitar in solitude. Everything in AR is calculated and wrought with psychotic zeal. These perfect storms of creativity are indeed rare, but thankfully productive enough for us to have a continual backlog of ideas to work with. The other projects seem to come about in a more casual manner somehow. Not they are any less worthy, but AR is more or less my soul laid bare artistically.
My impression is that new album manages to be “different” than debut even though they both operate in the same general area of “ancient occult black metal”. First album had songs with longer structures, something closer to the path of VARATRHON or MASTER’S HAMMER and “Primeval Devilish Wisdom” features shorter and filthier tracks, driven by the warm and fuzzy bass guitar of the ones like NECROMANTIA or early MYSTIFIER. Was this an intentional change of direction?
The previous album was a love letter to the elder Hellenic bands. They have created my favorite music by far and I had an overwhelming need at the time need to explore this further. It was perhaps a niche release and odd to push so early into our discography, but we had to follow our hearts. “Primeval…” is a return to the sound we have cultivated since the beginning and will continue to refine over time. I can see ourselves becoming dirtier and more elegant simultaneously, pushing our sound to it’s limit and beyond. All of this being said, expect the unexpected, we follow no rules but our own instincts and passions.
Kentucky, US is admittedly a surprising place for such an old school occult black metal sound to arise from in the modern age. I was very pleasantly surprised when I first found out about your debut full-length and the TARTARUS GATE demo (and always thought both were extremely overlooked so hopefully a new album on NWN! will change things). Is there a local scene with other bands/artists you feel connected or are you mainly doing your own thing?
Our “scene” if you will is composed of less than 10 individuals that will shift instruments and creative roles based upon the project. There are a small handful of locals that we are friendly with and have gigged with in the past, but I consider ourselves very separate from the mentality of what is happening around us. If our same group of musicians were placed somewhere else entirely, I think our end results would be highly similar. I began composing this “occult” style many years back when there was virtually no one working in this direction, save for Alioth, Hail, Cult of Daath, Heptameron and a few others… It has taken a very long time to find the correct members and mature as a songwriter to get where we are now, but better late than never!
What about on the global scale? This branch of occult, old school black metal (the Czech or Greek or Italian sounds of early 90s…) seems to have new followers, current acts, or new material from old guards in the past years from different places (MALOKARPATAN, CEMETERY LIGHTS, YSENGRIN, the recent acts in the Hellas scene…). Do you have any new and current favourites in similar styles beyond the original influences of the 90s bands?
I am extremely pleased to see this renaissance of “occult” oriented bands. All 3 bands you mention are incredible and definitely are putting out solid gold. Some others that truly impress me are Ceremonial Torture, Necromantic Worship (RIP) , Moenen of Xezbeth, Funeral Storm, Throaat, Gnosis, Servant, Blood Rites, Ithaqua… I’m sure there are some others I’m forgetting, but it is a great time to be a fan of the said genre regardless. As I mentioned earlier, in my formative years, you would maybe come across 1-2 releases a year hinting at these things, so the surplus we are experiencing now is certainly appreciated.
I know at one point you said there is new material planned for TARTARUS GATE as well as CATACOMBA reissues in due time. Do you have any further developments in these regards? Any certain dates, or perhaps even news on the vinyl issue of “Reverence for the Kings of Hell” in the future?
Tormentor of the Dark is currently composing the Tartarus Gate full length and there have also been talks about a split release. The next recordings are slated to feature the full band with myself on drums instead of programmed percussion. We are very much looking forward to more activity with this band, We have a healthy amount of Catacomba material ready to go, but this project exists sporadically at best. We have no collective desire to perform this style live anymore, so it has taken a back seat priority wise. I expect us to record early next year and see what happens. I have no further news on reissues as of this interview, but certainly do want our older works to be available at a reasonable price for those that are interested.
Any final words to Ride Into Glory readers about “Reverence for the Kings of Hell”’, APOCHRYPHAL REVELATION, or otherwise?
AR will continue on our path until the day I die, so definitely expect more activity in the future. There is another full length written and we look forward to adding our drummer into the recording process permanently. Thanks for the great interview and support!