As Worlds Collide...
CoC interviews Macabre Omen
by: Andreas Marouchos
Intergalactic invasion insinuations aside, the heading is more or less an apt title for a band's musical conception, which has managed to amalgamate two scenes of such notable disparity into such a congruent outcome. A far cry from being an otherwise ostentatious figure within the black metal realm, the sole person steering this one-manned wagon has been silently occupied with his projects since the early '90s. Following his own intransigent path with Macabre Omen and after a decade of active involvement in the underground, his first album, _The Ancient Returns_, was released in 2005. Succinctly, it is an interesting aesthetic sundry of elements from both Scandinavian archetypes and his native Hellenic scene. So, without further ado, I bring you "The One" in his own words.

CoC: Hail Alexander! What news from the _Macabre Omen_ camp as of late?

Macabre Omen: Xaipe! Sooner or later mankind shall come across the long awaited Macabre Omen / Order of the Ebon Hand split 7" (limited to just 250 copies) tribute to Bathory! A kult piece of art covering Bathory's Viking era classics. Also out soon, the vinyl version of _The Ancient Returns_. Other than that, I am mainly focusing on The One for this period of time.

CoC: Would you mind giving us a history of the band up to now?

MO: The band was formed back in 1994 A.B. by myself and two other individuals. Since then, a number of demos, split 7" EPs and a split CD with Judas Iscariot, Eternal Majesty and Krieg have been unleashed. From 1998 onwards, Macabre Omen has consisted only of The One...

CoC: It has come to my knowledge that this album took almost ten years in the making. Are you satisfied with the final outcome of this long-brewing endeavor?

MO: It took indeed over a decade to release the debut album, but it was worth the wait as the results are awe inspiring! The One is very pleased with the final outcome. It is exactly how I have pictured it, if not even better. Of course there are minor issues that I would have done differently, but overall it was worth the delay.

CoC: Taken from one of the album's track titles, "The Perfect Sound of North vs. South" is an adept description of your debut, which is essentially a clash of paradigms so to speak, where the more effervescent Mediterranean sound conflates perfectly with the, shall I say, more cold, 'true' forms of Northern black. How would you comment on that, with regards strictly to the musical influences on your album?

MO: Absolutely. The way I see black metal is different from where black metal stands today. I grew up listening to early '90s to mid-'90s black metal hordes from the North and South of Europe. Bands that followed no trend but what they truly believed in. Nowadays every new band has to be inspired by what the current trend is, such as the Black Legions trend or the Orthodox religious black metal crap. Black metal is not music to please the masses, but music to please the composer. Regarding the song title, in a way it sums up the whole album as you clearly noted, but it also is a metaphor for issues such as the importance of "balance", "perfection", "superiority" and so forth...

CoC: Epic on a multitude of levels, _The Ancient Returns_ sounds to me like a call aimed at a hidden, archaic part of ourselves to revert back to antediluvian, forgotten values where the human spirit roamed free, unrestricted by today's materialistic, lowbrow social norms. Conceptually, where does the album revolve around?

MO: In order to achieve the description you have just mentioned, the music needs to be grand, monotonous, repetitive and melancholic. All these elements can be found in _The Ancient Returns_. There is no point to mix hundreds of riffs with virtuoso solos as the listener (in this case myself) will lose the plot and will not be able to evoke those aforementioned images. Generally speaking, the album wants to evoke an image of what once was... of a utopian world full of values and respect. A world that I have yet to come across in all its glory -- but I am still searching...

CoC: Both vocally and in terms of atmosphere, the album at times is quite reminiscent of that unmistakable Burzumness, invoking similar cold apparitions of utter desolation. Indeed, you are one of the very few units that have successfully managed to enmesh that definitive coldness into their sound as their own. Has _Burzum_ simply been an influence, or more of an inspiration over the course of the album's inception?

MO: I grew up listening to Burzum, and for me Burzum and most of those early '90s hordes are the true definition of what black metal is all about. Bands like Rotting Christ, Bathory, old Mayhem, Darkthrone, early Celtic Frost, etc. had all a very different unique sound and didn't give a shit about sales, pleasing the fans or following trends. Vikernes is a confused personality and sometimes has a confused direction and opinions that contradict each other. In other words, I consider Burzum purely as an influence mainly out of respect. Actually I try to only think highly of myself these days... I have no interest in humanity whatsoever.

CoC: Schopenhauer once wrote that "Music never expresses the phenomenon (i.e. the external, the perceived), only the essence, the thing-in-itself, in other words it expresses Will itself in its purity". Would you say that music in its pure nature is inherently unbound from human symbolism and values?

MO: I consider music as one of the most powerful tools of propaganda, that if composed in the right manner it can provoke elements of fear, pessimism, melancholy, hatred and so forth. Quality music comes first from within to satisfy the needs of the composer, and then to any external circles. If this is not the case, then we are talking about music by order, commercial music, pop music, advertising jingles and so forth. Most black metal today is music for ordering... it cannot be explained otherwise how a band can release eight split EPs and two full albums in a space of twelve months. It is simply ridiculous.

CoC: It is quite obvious that all black metal bands of notable quality retain an omnipresent feeling of despair and hostility emanating through their musical output, although different musically and even ideologically, be it Satanism, Nazism, et cetera. Do you think that what might ultimately lurk behind the fundamental nature of black metal is a certain sentiment of existential alienation, or angst if you will?

MO: I agree with this statement. Black metal is not for everyone and black metal is not music to unite or satisfy humanitarian needs. It purely exists to reveal a clearer image of hatred, destruction, misanthropy and even alienation and angst. I cannot see the reason why true black metal should be spawned by a certain country, by certain individuals with a certain subject, but at the same time be accessible and sold in large quantities. True black metal can only be achieved if the feelings of hatred, desolation and anti-humanism are there. If those feelings are true, then the sound will be true. If not, then something is missing and the material will just be forgotten in time like most of the crap out there.

CoC: Although _The Ancient Returns_ has been well received by the underground, Macabre Omen has remained, for the most part, rather unnoticed by the greater black metal fan-base despite possessing undeniable quality. Is such a status a conscious effort to keep your work within a selective, tight-knit circle?

MO: Not at all. I think this is simply and purely because of the minimalism in imagery, lyricism, etc. -- and this is the way Macabre Omen will stay... or am I supposed to adjust in order to attract a larger number of people that will be pestering me with their ignorance? I would rather things remain as they are!

CoC: Macabre Omen has been dwelling in the Grecian underground for over a decade now. Over the years, what is the main driving force behind your artistic inspiration?

MO: As previously noted, it is purely a need to express myself. Maybe if this was a perfect utopian world I would be a different man and I would not need music to express my "wish of total destruction" and the total disgust that can constantly be found within me! Until these sentiments vanish I should often eradicate humans of no importance.

CoC: With bands such as Deathspell Omega and Drudkh conveying more artistic and intellectually stimulating themes, it seems that the genre is experiencing an aesthetic reawakening as of late. What is your view on the black metal status quo as it is generally purveyed today? How much do standards differ, in terms of quantity and quality, from when you first entered the scene back in the early '90s?

MO: I don't really like this kind of neo black metal, to tell you the truth. Drudkh and Hate Forest are remarkable achievements, but nothing really excites me anymore, as it is either trendy, or has been done before. Sometimes neo black metal sounds like it is composed to satisfy someone else... basically it sounds like pop music to my ears. Manufactured, cliché, predictable and using a certain formula for "success". I prefer unique material that has no fear of being ignored by the masses. Sick, pioneering and insane material with pure feeling and no use of stereotypical characteristics.

CoC: In the long run, what do you hope to achieve with Macabre Omen from a personal perspective? Do you see your music as a means to an end or as the purpose itself?

MO: Music is a way to express myself. I cannot keep these things in my head, as I can only remember so much. I want to record the material when the opportune moment arises, in order to remind me why I am here and where I am going. I have no target with Macabre Omen or any of my projects. However, that does not mean that I shall record crap whenever it is required. What will be recorded will purely be a classic release. Something that will withstand the fall of time... otherwise there is no point.

CoC: You are involved with several distros and 'zines in your home island, namely Demonion Productions and Ancient Tragedy fanzine. How are things going with these activities?

MO: All these things are mid-'90s activities of mine. The 'zine I have stopped for a long time. Rare and kult material indeed! As for Demonion Productions, it is a label I had since '96 that has spawned bands such as Keep of Kalessin, Warloghe, Pest, Der Sturmer, Moontower, Satanic Warmaster, Utumno and so forth, by releasing their demos or 7". At the moment Demonion Productions is just focusing on distribution. The mail order has some 1500 items, so feel free to ask.

CoC: In regards to your other band, The One, there is a direct contrast between the majestic approach of MO and the more brooding and menacing feeling of the former. Are both bands the sides of the same coin, or is there a distinct underlying thematic difference?

MO: Indeed both bands are the sides of the same coin. Musically and lyrically they are so different, but the final result is the same. Superiority, power, ignorance, destruction. It is a different way to express the same thing, if you understand what I mean. I want to see if one day both bands could become One. That would be an achievement, but it will take a long time, I think!

CoC: What are your future plans with Macabre Omen and your other projects? Should we expect your sophomore release any time soon from MO?

MO: As I previously expressed, I am currently focusing on The One. It has been three years already and this new album will crush the masses! Aere Aeternus is also a priority for me, as in a way it stands along the same lines as The One, yet in a more industrialized, militaristic approach. After all that is out of the way, I will try and put down the layers for the new Macabre Omen epic. It will be grand like the first one and in the exact same way and direction. No innovation!

CoC: Alright Alexander, it's been a pleasure. Last words belong to you.

MO: The future belongs to the brave. I shall return stronger than ever with my new assaults... even if it takes me another decade!

(article submitted 10/7/2006)


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