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Goat Torment | How to stoke the flames of a ceremonial pyre.

Black Metal legions, Goat Torment, return with their third full length album, ‘Forked Tongues’ via Season of Mist, a release that is sure to stoke the flames of a ceremonial pyre for it is an album that invokes a maelstrom of incantations woven by its musical virtuosity. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the band, so to you, the reader, I do hope the interview entertains your curiosity enough to support the band, and to fans of Goat Torment, may you enjoy this interview!

Hello and welcome to Metal Digest! Firstly let me get this out of the way, when the opportunity arose for me to have this interview, I could not have contained my excitement from my colleagues, so thank you for reaching out to us! How have you been?

Everything is good, thank you.

You have recently released your third album, ‘Forked Tongues’ (October 29th, 2021) through Season of Mist Underground Activists, congratulations by the way, as the album is rather fantastic!
Would you care to give us a summary on the conception and recording process of the album, for if I am not mistaken (you can keep me honest here), it’s been nearly 6 years counting from your second release, ‘Sermons to Death’ (2015), so when exactly did writing begin for ‘Forked Tongues’ and what were the factors that fueled this album?

It was maybe a year after the release of our second album that we started writing new material. At the beginning of the writing process, I asked our live member (who played both bass and guitar at different points) if he wanted to join and participate in the writing process of the new album. He agreed to this proposal. We wrote and shared ideas from our homes at a distance. Living in three different countries (Belgium, France and Germany) and having busy schedules,  didn’t allow us to come together very often but we made it happen. As you can see, we were not in a rush and we didn’t force the creative process. Even with determination, it’s better to deliver something at the pace that it’s meant to be. When we were finally ready to record the pandemic started and this also delayed a lot. We ended up taking our time with the recordings and focused a lot on the sound because not much was happening anyway in these times.

From my listening experience with ‘Forked Tongues’ there seems to be a shift in terms of atmosphere where ‘Sermons to Death’ is concerned, as ‘Forked Tongues’ has a more Blackened Death tonality to its atmosphere, where the instrumental aspects display more aggression than usual and going back to ‘Sermons to Death’ while still Black Metal, there were some slower rather doom like influences as well as some Black/Thrash, so can you elaborate with the disparity between the two releases as well as the decision behind taking the music towards a different facet of Black Metal?

For me it wasn’t really a decision of taking the music to a different facet. There was no intention to write or display some aspects more or less than the others. These different elements were always in Goat Torment but more in a subtle way. I suppose that they’re more defined on ‘Forked Tongues’ in comparance to previous releases. The different sound and production in between both albums has also attributed to the different atmospheres.

My next question which I was most curious in asking deals with the lyrical aspect of ‘Forked Tongues’, firstly, I really appreciate the vivid imagery that is painted with these lyrics as it is a treat to read as a companion piece to the music. Your lyrics seem to deal Satanism, but not in a black and white sense (which is appreciated in the lyrical writing).However, I can be wrong, but from reading the title track, it does seem to be pulled from the Bible (The Book of Revelations) and also the last track, ‘Charnel Houses’ there are some Latin that pulls from the Latin hymn, ‘Vexilla Regis Prodeunt’. So my question is, besides these mediums where do you look for inspiration when crafting the lyrical content, are there other mediums which you can share with Metal Digest in which serves as a source for where these ideas are drawn upon?

You can interpretate Forked Tongues like you want. Every meaning and definition of the title is fitting with this album. Forked Tongues, Devilish Tongues, Lies, Falseness,… Stare at the cover and let your imagination flow.
For the lyrical aspect I don’t read anything anywhere. After I write a song and I need to think about writing lyrics I am already creating a story in my mind and write a concept down. Thelma Ramon helped me with the writing of the lyrics for this album by interpretating these concepts with her talent for writing and imagery. I don’t like ‘black and white-sense lyrics’ or how you call it. I like when people can think about it in their own way when they are reading the lyrics. The lyrics for the track ‘Charnel Houses’ were written by Rogier Droog (Hell Militia), he wrote Lyrics for the track ‘King of Locusts’ on the first album and was also doing live bass at some point.

One aspect of Black Metal that I have always been fascinated by is the vocal delivery, not in the sense of the register used, but the emotion that goes into the recording and performance, so if you would be so kind as to share, when performing/recording these tracks, was there a particular mindset that you needed to get yourself into, meaning a zone to channel that energy forth that is heard on the recording? For the vocals (in my opinion) exude that ceremonial feeling. Also, staying upon the same topic, I know there exists artists who pen such lyrics yet there is a dissociation with words they sing as opposed to the person who sings them, in other words, the lyrics are merely for shock factor. In Goat Torment’s case how would you describe and state this? (Forgive me if I may be overstepping) But is there a certain sincerity and honesty in the lyrics behind ‘Forked Tongues’ in other words are they written from a mind that believes them?

When I’m writing music for Goat Torment I’m always in a different mindset. I don’t know how to explain this but I need to be in the trance at that moment when I start to write a song, otherwise it’s not working or not coming out like how I want it to be. When the song is finished I start with the vocals. During the writing process I already think about when to sing and how to, so when recording the vocals I have this energy already directly because the song has been written with this energy.

I understand what you mean with the shock factor. This is not the case for Goat Torment. Inspiration randomly comes in my mind and I hold on to these ideas so I can then use them or link them to new songs or songs already written. I surely believe what I am/we are doing, Goat Torment wouldn’t exist if this wasn’t the case.

The artwork for ‘Forked Tongues’ was created and hand painted by Olivier Lomer (aka Neraath) from such bands as Emptiness and Enthroned. The album art does a superb job of conveying the rather visceral nature of the release, just by gazing at it while you listen to each track. Could you explain the vision behind the art and its symbolism, as it has a rather strong occult-like aesthetic?

Olivier has done all of the artwork for all of our releases so far. He has been working with us since the beginning of the band and knows exactly what we want, so it was an easy choice to continue a collaboration with him for this album. I explained what I wanted to him and what was in mind, along with sending him the entire album for a listen. I wanted him to put his own spin on these visions by being inspired from listening to the album. When he sent me the 1st preview of the painting, it matched all of our expectations. More and more details were added until it was a completed as it is. It represents a disgusting, fearful, strong powerful force with a dwelling-like occult atmosphere. This is exactly how I wanted it to be.

I would like to shift to the 2009 Demo, ‘Death Worship’ in which the production and instruments sounded very crude and raw (not a negative by the way), fast forward to ‘Forked Tongues’ where its night and day, where the production is really crisp (but does not take away from that malevolent nature), so when recording the Demo what was the mindset and motivation behind ‘Death Worship’ compared to now. Following up on that same question, was it a conscious decision to have that clear production on the new album? Also going back to ‘Death Worship’, do you ever think some of those songs may be re-recorded with the current aesthetic of the band in that flavor?

When comparing the demo and the new album, I can also see where it’s night and day. The spirit and intention has always been the same but the differences can be heard as part of the evolution of the band, which includes a more developed songwriting and distinct atmosphere. There wasn’t a budget with the demo, so the demo was recorded at our first drummer’s place who had a home studio. This is still what we wanted at that point and how we expected the sound to be like. At the time, we were in contact with Selim Lemouchi from The Devil’s Blood and he supported Goat Torment when the band was born and he offered to mix the demo. Every release after this has been recorded and mixed by Jeremie Bezier from Blackout Studio in Brussels and he also knows the band’s intentions and expectations on the sound. The differences in the sound also comes from his personal evolution as a sound engineer. With this new album ‘Forked Tongues’ we all knew exactly what we wanted for it to sound like. We wanted a more powerful sound but still not overly produced and I think we’ve succeeded in this. At some point I did consider re-recording the demo songs but never convinced myself to do this because they would sound like completely different songs and I don’t see a point in doing this.

It was announced early August (2021) that you all have been signed to Season of Mist, as an artist, how did the shift to a huge label like this feel? How different is it compared to the prior years?

The two previous albums have been released by Amor Fati Productions. Marius did a great job in releasing those albums and we got so much support from him. He did almost everything that was asked when it came to the cd and vinyl formats. There were only two important factors and concerns which led to my decision to change labels for this 3rd album. 1. When we were writing the new album it came to my attention that Amor Fati was releasing more raw/atmospheric black metal bands. Goat Torment isn’t either of that so I thought that we don’t really fit into the label’s roster and audience anymore.  2. We wanted more promotion. We’ve put a lot of time and work in this new album in every aspect, musically and visually. We wanted to reach a bigger and more proper audience because there are some death metal influences and therefore Season of Mist was the best choice for us because they have a diverse fanbase with a mix of black and death metal fans and their promotion is great. There was a very great feeling from the very first contact we had with SOM. All communication is going flawlessly and their promo team is doing a perfect job. We are happy that we signed with Season of Mist and are looking forward to the future.

So my next question has to do with musical influences, what were the bands that propelled you to dive into the realm of Black Metal as well as the bands who you still admire to this day? I am very interested to know those origins where that spark was first ignited.

Questions like this one are a bit difficult to answer. As a kid I listened to classical and rock music, and also played the piano. I think that this eventually led me to listening to Black and Death metal because of the dark aura that classical music brings. When I first started teaching myself to play the guitar and then writing riffs, I never intended anything to be in a certain style. The more I played, the more I started to write music myself. Even if I’ve admired several bands from different musical genres, I don’t think there was any specific band that directly influenced me. My attraction to extreme music in general has influenced my way of playing and this is probably what drove me to this.

So to end this interview, my final question would simply be related to Black Metal itself, so…what does Black Metal mean to you as a genre and art style? Is there a spiritual connection to the music or a medium where your art can be expressed? I know it differs from each artist, but where Goat Torment is concerned I’d really like to know…if you are willing to share with us?

I think all individuals are doing it for themselves and it’s used to express inner feelings and beliefs. It’s a personal interpretation and connection for everyone. The left hand path is a driving force and it’s definitely more than just about the music but there’s also no exact way that it should be saught to be. Like mentioned before I like to bring our music out and people can interpretate everything as they want. 

Thank you so much for having the patience and the time for answering my questions, I truly am grateful for it, best of luck along the journey and may your fires burn eternal and strong! I would leave these last few words to you, is there anything you would like to tell the fans?

Thank you for this interview and your words, Justin!


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