Licurgo (Spain) 15/05/2015
Some time ago I received Flames, the second full length album of Licurgo from Spain. Their old school and straightforward approach to music as also their true Black Metal character caught my attention. So I contacted with Redacrem, the main composer and founding member of the band and the result is the following, very interesting and analytical discussion.
1. Hails Licurgo and thank you for the interview. First of all do you want to tell me a few things about the band and its journey through time until now?
Redacrem : Hail from Spain and thanks for your interest. The band was formed ten years ago by Thanatoss (drums), Brogos (bass) and me, Redacrem (voice and guitar). We were looking for a way to express our concern through Black Metal. In 2006 we recorded the demo Anti Human in the rehearsal space by the technician Luis Varó, with not too many things and just two microphones for all (voice, bass, guitar and drums). We played all the themes as if it was a rehearsal or a near live. It had a good reception and nowadays it is sold out. After some live shows that had a lot of audience, two members of the band were changed. At the end only remained two components: Elgidum (new drummer) and Redacrem. In 2009 we published Strongest with a professional sound. It was recorded and mixed at the Black Stage Studio by Luis Varó and Alberto Urios as technicians and produced together with Licurgo. Elgidum played drums and I recorded voices, guitars and bass. After the self-publishing of Strongest Elgidum parted away and at the beginning of 2010 the current group was established: Lord Deimos (bass), Ollil Ziur (drums) and Redacrem. Until 2014 we were playing live in some Spanish cities, highlighting the shows with Warfield (Mexico) and Inquisition (USA). We too took part in two Black Metal festivals in Madrid. We were chosen to participate with some songs in some compilations of Spanish Black Metal and also in a Peruvian one. In summer 2014 we recorded our last album Flames again with Luis Varó at the Black Stage Studio, mixing and producing it together. Lately we had to cancel some live shows in Murcia, Madrid and Alicante (this one with Christ Agony and Witchmaster of Poland) because of personal matters. This pissed us off but now we have confirmed our presence at the Metalauringis Extreme Festival in Jaen (Spain) together with the Italians Stormlord among others next October.
2. Something that may catch the attention of a fan, especially a Greek one, would be your name. Tell the story of choosing this name to represent your music. What does it mean for you and how do you feel about it after almost ten years of the bands creation?
Redacrem : I’m a passionate of ancient history. I’m interested especially in the first European civilizations and cultures. Greece is the cradle of our civilization and a mainstay of the western culture. In particular Sparta and the Greek alliance saved some times the western world stopping the almost unstoppable Asian advance… As a child I loved all these themes and read avidly everything related to it. When in 2005 I arrived at the rehearsal space as Licurgo I told my partners what this name implied and the meaning it had for Sparta, Greece and the world and what it would mean for the band. I remember that I read to them some paragraphs of a popular history book that I took there. Previously we discussed some other names, but then we all agreed at once. The laws issued by Licurgo and the Spartan way of life reflected our fighting spirit and it was a declaration of intent for the band. As a matter of fact Sparta became a military power at the time because of those laws. Ten years later we try to keep the flame alive through Licurgo, been even more valid because we keep the fundamentals that took me to form the band. I’ve always admired ancient cultures, their way of life, organization and much of their values and ideology. In each work I try to compose a theme about this. We recorded the theme The Three Hundred (no explanation needed for the Greek fans about what the lyrics are about) in the demo Anti Human (2006); in Strongest (2009) we recorded Numantia (about the defence and harassment that the Celtiberian people suffered in the Iberian Peninsula by the Roman Republic); and in Flames (2014) I composed Saguntum (about the Hispanic-Roman resistance against the Carthaginian siege in Hispania). The lyrics of these themes have heroism, loyalty, sacrifice, pride, courage and strength before death in common. All these values remain fully in place for the band and they are heirs, among others, of the ancient Sparta and of its legislator that names us.
3. I got to know Licurgo and your inspired, old school Black Metal with the album Flames of 2014. Do you want to give me some information about that album?
Redacrem : As I said the album was recorded in 2014 at the Black Stage Studio (www.blackstagestudio.com) in Alicante (Spain). Vacula Prod. (Ukraine) and Hass Weg Prod. (France) record labels edited 500 copies at the end of last year. It consists of ten themes and an outro (a magical mantra, a codified key of the essence of what Flames means to Licurgo). We named it Flames because every theme is a new flame, a new light that guides us on our way. In fact, in the cover you can see ten candles shining in the dark in the presence of an antichrist and a pentacle symbolizing the essence and concept of the whole album. All drums were played by Ollil Ziur. Lord Deimos played the bass, except for the song ¡Salve Satan! (Redacrem played the bass) and some parts in the theme Pater Nostre Satana played by me. I sang all the voices and played all guitars. The lyrics were written by Lord Deimos and me. The design was conceived by Licurgo together with the artist Obelix. All art, except for the photographs, was conceived also by Obelix (facebook: Obelix Hell Art).
4. Your love about the old school Metal scene is obvious but what inspires you to write music?
Redacrem : Certainly, me and my brothers like old school black metal and follow that way. Personally I am inspired by the gathered hate faced with daily life, the misanthropic feelings that emerge when I deal with some people or listening to or reading some news of the society in which we live in. For instance, the antireligious feeling faced with present monotheisms inspires me vastly. My readings are a great inspiration too and Nietzsche, Crowley, LaVey and other magicians, thinkers and philosophers influence me. Also history, the passion for pagan cultures, satanism or esoteric and magic books. As well dark fantasy from authors such as Lovecraft, Howard, Becquer and others helps me. Lately the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (book adapted by Coppola to shoot Apocalypse Now) got me to think about the human condition. Other influence is some kind of cinema and comic with some dark reflexive nature. All in all I look inside of me and get out everything that makes my blood boil and repulses me and I adorn it with issues that interest me. I get my hate out of me. It is an attempt to embrace inner darkness. When I compose or write some themes, it is for self-satisfaction, as a personal catharsis. I think Lord Deimos and Ollil Ziur do the same. With regard to musical influences, I keep always in mind the past and the old school: from Black Sabbath, the first works of bands from the 80s as Celtic Frost, Slayer… to the first wave of Norway BM in the 90s and other bands that I like from other countries, but most of them from that time. There are some bands that shake me nowadays, but I try to keep away from them… I used them only for my delight, not for my inspiration.
5. As i said above, Licurgo are active for ten years now. Are you satisfied by your journey through music and your evolution as persons and as musicians until now? Is there anything you would have done differently if you could?
Redacrem : I am satisfied with my evolution and that of the band. Of course if I could I’d like to change some things that could be improved. The demo from 2006 would be recorded in another way and it would be totally different but maybe it would lose the raw sound it has. All the logistic and technical problems in the recording of Strongest would be eliminated at stroke if I could. I would remedy some live shows with problems or awful sound. There are always things to improve. Maybe one thing I regret is to choose some wrong people. I remember that in 2007 I had a drummer that played real good but he did not want to be corpse painted playing alive. I gave in and allowed that. It is a mistake I am not proud of, because for me it is something else than appearing in disguise or making up. It is to transform into Redacrem, my real me. It is not a pose to show “look how mean I am disguised as a monster”, like in a carnival or in Halloween. It is the same when I play and it has an essential value and an inner symbolism. It shows how I am. Besides this drummer, some other people became members of the band and they made my head ache because of other reasons. I was the only component in 2009 after publishing Strongest, so I could not play live till 2011. I’d like to study music seriously and learn to play better the instruments, but I cannot complain. I am an autodidact with scarce musical training. But I get by and I accept myself as I am. I am not young anymore and I try not to disappoint myself in any of my performances in everyday life and in the band. When I tidy myself every morning and look at the mirror before going to work to prostitute my time so I can sustain my depleted economy, so far the crystal gives back a smile. The mirror keeps on accepting me… and I hope it will be so till my expiration.
6. Your lyrics mainly are talking about Satanism. Would you like to tell me more about your lyrics, what inspires you to write them and what you want to express through them?
Redacrem : My texts are a reflection of my ideas, my thoughts, my readings, my perception of reality, my magical sensations… I am drawn to witches’ coven, invocations… Satan symbolizes the other side, the dark and the death, the communion with pagan, the brute force of nature, the individualist thought, hating to those who judge, winning through, the anti-god of disgusting monotheism that suffocates me…, the guide of the right way. Every time I read a book about the cosmos I see his work, he is the chaos that causes everything, he is in the stars, in the planets, in the black holes, in the earth and the rocks, in the sea, in the fire, in the flame… yes, especially in the flames. I feel his hand when I admire nature. I smell him when I meditate about existence and about this divine joke that plays on us. I listen to him inside of me, he acts in my conscience, and he helps me to empty and gives me strength. He helps me to find the key to open the door for my searching. I do not want to be more explicit because it is something I’d rather not talk about. Each one has to plot his own way and side with his own thoughts. Nowadays I share the lyrics with Lord Deimos and he has his own concepts and thoughts too that fit together with mine.
7. What kind of comments have you received for Flames so far by the fans and the press? Are you satisfied by them or you were expecting something different?
Redacrem : We are satisfied with our work because we compose mainly for ourselves. It seems it is very well welcomed and we are happy. So far the opinions, critics and reviews are very generous. It is a satisfaction that so many people like something we create as a work to set our hate free. This fact, though it is weird, fills us with pride and makes our blood run through our veins faster. Luckily it is so… but if it was not so we wouldn’t be disappointed and we would keep on our way. As I said we create for ourselves. If all the copies are sold, that would be fine and we would be happy if we could get more discs to distribute. But if only 20 people understand what we do, it is the same. Our music is for an elite. We don’t care if they are few… We are not interested in quantity but in quality of those who listen to us. Playing live is the same. We carry out our ritual and try hard if there are 300 people or only 60. We play and compose to fulfil ourselves as people, but logically we like more people understanding and sharing what we offer. It would be cynical not admitting it. So far we are satisfied with the response of our fans and the media.
8. You come from Spain, a country with not so many bands into Black Metal. Is there any interest by the fans about Black Metal? What is the opinion of your compatriots about Licurgo?
Redacrem : There is some interest for the Black Art in Spain. There are good BM bands. But their supporting is limited to the underground. Both selling works and in shows. Every time there is less people at the shows because of the economic crisis. Even so Licurgo has many fans in his live shows, although we don’t show ourselves much. We refuse many events sometimes because we couldn’t cover costs to travel and stay, but especially because we like to choose well. We don’t like playing just for playing. For us the shows are live rituals. It is not playing and having a good time… We must check they fit Licurgo. If we don’t like what you offer, you’ll get a “no” as an answer… And there is no money that changes that answer. We do nothing for money. We took part in events where we lost money travelling and staying but we wanted to play there. It only depends on us. Every time we played in Spain in cities where no one knew us before, after the show we were congratulated. The fans let us know that. It is the same with the records. People who listen to them for the first time congratulate us. So I think Licurgo is a respected band. But those who listen to us should be asked. This is only what we feel. We don’t mean to brag, we prefer that those who listen to our music judge us. They should answer you.
9. Do you want to give me some information about the Black Metal scene of Spain? Are there any bands or musicians that you appreciate and you would like to suggest me? Are you in contact or do you cooperate with any musician from there?
Redacrem : Though I never cooperated with any of them, we admire a lot of Spanish BM bands such as Primigenium, Grimuack, Kuturlak, Ur, Profundis Tenebrarum, Nakkiga, Andhord, Empty, Aversio Humanitatis, Akerbeltz, Abrahel, Foscor, Ouija, Cauldron, Balmog, Lucifuego, Wargoatcult, Cryfemal, Muert, Malroïn and many others that I can’t tell… There is quite a lot of quality. I have very good friends in some of these bands. With other people I have a good rapport and we keep in touch by letter. Our regular technician plays in Mortis Cruentus, so we have a great friendship. There are also some very good fanzines and journals.
10. Do you play live? If yes where have you played so far? Have you arranged any live performances for promoting Flames in the near future?
Redacrem : After reading again the answer to the first question I think this one is already answered. We are open to do new rituals. After the self-exclusion of three events because of health and the passing of one of our drummer’s relatives right now we will only be in a festival together with Stormlord in October in Spain… Last November we presented Flames in our area with a good acceptance, but unfortunately our drummer injured one arm. Luckily he is already recovered from that.
11. Do you want to add anything for a conclusion and sum up your near future plans?
Redacrem : Currently we are writing new songs. Maybe we will performance something special for our tenth anniversary… That remains to be seen… I wanted to thank you publicly for your interest in Licurgo and the review you did of Flames. Thanks for all the support. To all the readers: search your way and show no mercy to your enemies. For the enthroning of Darkness! Satan is in you. Contact: email@example.com facebook: LICURGO