Norwegian gothic-industrial band Carrion has come out with a new album titled Testament Ov The Exiled [Revised Edition]. 13 of its 15 tracks are currently available on Bandcamp for streaming and pre-order, with the full release dropping on January 18.
Carrion was formed in 2013. Its members are Hide Tepes as the vocals and main composer, Joe Crow on bass and guitar, and Sam Dusk with samples and sound texture.
Testament Ov The Exiled is an eerie, firm, album that had my mind switching between watching a cult horror movie, dancing at a goth club, and headbanging in the pit at a bar gig. On first listen, it is a masterful combination of creepy, sometimes glitchy sound samples, a steady beat, and menacingly breathy vocals. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find lyrical depth on the topics of end times and destruction interwoven with references to religion and alchemy.
When listening to these songs, I’d recommend turning off all the lights in your bedroom and putting on a single red lightbulb for complimentary ambiance. Think of it like a wine pairing.
After going through the album several times, I interviewed Carrion member Hide Tepes regarding its creation and components.
1- Simple question here to get started. Approximately how long did the album take to create, from the moment you thought of it to publication?
It was a fairly fast process actually. I think all in all it was 2 or 3 weeks between the first thoughts of another album and having it completed with artwork and all.
Wow that’s actually way faster than I imagined. That’s impressive.
Yeah, I tend to work pretty fast and it seems I don`t know what a break is.
2. How did the process compare to previous Carrion albums?
Well, this is the first album I`ve done using modular synthesis so the workflow was definitely different, in a good way. It was more organic. But on a more personal side of things, when I wrote Iconoclasm I had recently more or less torn my life apart and was at the threshold of starting over again whereas with this one it`s more about what comes after such an extreme decision, the consequences and the positives and negatives of it all.
3- So, going off that, did this album mark any other technical artist progression for you in terms of style, production type/methods, or direction?
During the time between the two albums I`ve definitely learned more about the production side of things which I think shines through. I`m always looking to learn and progress as stagnation is any artists ultimate enemy, at least it should be. Working with modular synths opens up for a lot of experimentation and happy accidents as it were which definitely has coloured the final outcome.
4- Are there any instruments, techniques, or other artistic directions you’re looking forward to experimenting with going forward?
I`m open to anything really, whatever I stumble upon that I feel could benefit me in some way. I`m trying to get away from software and programming as much as I can and hope to be able to write the next album fully utilizing hardware equipment. Both as an experiment and due to the fact that I feel there are things you can do when physically playing an instrument that can`t really be completely replicated digitally. There`s a few songs on this album that highlights my rock and metal roots such as Untill The Reaper Comes and Dogs Ov Hell [The bonus track on the Revised Edition] and I`m sure that`s something I will be incorporating more going forwards.
5- This question’s for all the hardware nerds out there. What are your favorite pieces of equipment you used for this album?
I`d probably have to go with the Manis Iteritas module by Noise Engineering. While it may be designed to create really thick and harsh industrial type of sounds it`s definitely not a one trick pony and I used in heavily in various contexts throughout the album.
6- Also regarding the album creation process, how did the collaboration with other artists on the remix tracks go? How did you select them?
They`re all friends of mine. Ed Finkler [Dead Agent] I`ve known for a while and I really like what he does, I did some remix work for him for a charity compilation album a little while ago and we just kept in touch. Vanity Kills is Joe Crow`s band who recently joined Carrion as well, I like that there`s still someone out there carrying the torch of dirty, girtty rock n roll and he does that very well. Decent News is a band I originally discovered through being featured on a compilation album by them last year or maybe the year before that. I contacted them and we got on really well right away. I tend to be quite vocal about supporting smaller artists so while I could reach out to friends of mine in bigger bands I rather wanted to use the opportunity to highlight my friends and practice what I preach so to speak.
I love when artists help each other out like that. 7- More on the band itself, I’ve noticed a variety of place names on the Bandcamp. The album’s Bandcamp page describes Carrion as Norwegian. The album page also has the tag “Pennsylvania.” You’re working with Missfit Toys now, which is based (I believe) in Florida. What’s going on with Carrion’s members’ geography? Or, to put it simpler, where’s everyone located?
The label is located in Pennsylvania. I`m Norwegian, born and raised and it`s where I currently reside. Sam is in the U.S and Joe is in the UK.
Thanks! That clears things up a bit. 8- Back to the album- what’s the deal with the album art? Any story there?
The original version of the album has a much lighter tone to represent a clean slate, purity, rebirth and such themes. The Revised Edition has a darker tone to serve as a reminder of that in order for rebirth to take place one has to die which isn`t always a pretty thing. The death and rebirth in this case being me tearing apart my life and starting over and while it may have brought with it a lot of positives there`s also the negative sides of such a decision. There`s a lot of new age ideologies these days talking about these concepts and it seems for the most part they just gloss over the pain and sacrifice that`s required to be reborn.
9- Aside from death and rebirth, the album also features the lyrical themes of religion and alchemy. What’s the inspiration behind these aspects?
The death and rebirth thing ties directly into the alchemical ideas. As for the religious aspects that`s just how it comes to me. I don`t tend to sit down and think about what to write about, you could think of it more like dictating, someone or something tells you or shows you something and you write it down. The lyrics tend to contain more than one meaning and way of interpretation. There`s been times where I`ve finished a lyric and not known what it`s about until much later, it`s got a semi-spiritual aspect to it.
10- Bragging time. What’s some cool, subtle thing you did in this album that you’d want people to know about? Whether it’s wordplay, musical technique, or something else that someone might not catch at first.
There`s a lot of processed field recordings on there provided by Sam, I can`t possibly remember what they all were in their untouched state but I do know there`s everything from literally banging pots and pans to recordings from the various protests in the U.S. I might have put what`s known as infrasound into a few of the songs as an experiment as well but I can`t remember which ones really so if you find yourself feeling like someone’s watching you, you might just be listening to one such song,
I absolutely love that. 11- The other piece of visual art that accompanies this album is this music video for “Putting Tape Over Martyrs Mouths.” It plays with high contrast colors, symmetry, and a sort of glitchy theme. How was this done? Especially in terms of everyone living in different locations.
That whole video was filmed by me and Sam in our apartments. It`s very DIY and lo-fi as with most things we do. We live in a time where everyone has decent technology in their hands, you can get good quality footage without breaking the bank so we take advantage of our times I suppose. The effects was all done by me using various apps and video editing software.
As the last question, 12- Is there any planned Carrion material we can look forward to?
I`ve started writing the next album already actually. As I said I`m trying to do things very hardware based which is definitely interesting. From what I have so far it seems it will be yet another leap away as we tend to with each release. It might technically end up being the most electronic album to date [ignoring the very early demos] but don`t think it`ll be full on EBM style. Expect something very very dark.
Well, I’m certainly excited for it!
As am I. It`ll definitely be kicking things up a notch.