Seven Gates of Hell with SPELL

25. srpna 2016 v 0:44 | RaznAgul |  seven gates of hell interviews
The aim of the open series of the blogzine´s Seven Gates of Hell interviews is to introduce the bands and their music that struck my metalhead´s heart and soul recently. In seven questions, the gates are open for those who make their music of true metal spirit, pure dedication and of what I understand as underground approach and aesthetics.

The Canadian heavy metal act SPELL started almost ten years ago as Stryker, releasing a rare demo tape and a split with the akins Johnny Touch. The band's early years are closely tied with one particular song titled "We Are Possessed by Heavy Metal". Not only did it give the name to Stryker's both juvenile releases, but it also kicked up SPELL´s debut album "The Full Moon Sessions" (2014) as a salient masterpiece of the track set and perfectly characterized their music's draw on the cherished past of the genre. While retaining the base of heavy metal classicism, with the second album "For None And All" (2016) the band consipicuously moved their music craft to a more matured and distinctive stitch patterns. The abundance of varied guitar distortions and synths warped in smokey moods called up the spirits of primordial hard rock psychedelism and art rock motley colouring. With their first full length I got spellbound, with the new one I became obssessed. The album "For None And All" turned out to be a record of my days and nights! I further ignited my enthusiasm for SPELL´s music with the talk to the band´s lead vocalist and bassist Cam Mesmer.

I. For quite a considerable part of the band's existence, you acted under the different moniker of Stryker, releasing your very first recordings. Did the change of your name to SPELL stand as a challenge for the young horde striving to beat their solid place within the scene?
"Thanks for the kind words, and for including us on The Heavy like Hell. No, the name change caused no problems for us. It was a joy to move into a more freeing identity. To me, SPELL is less predefined by scenes from the past, less locked in with a specific subgenre and more open to interpretation and whatever kind of music we feel like creating. Stryker was formative, while SPELL reflects our true identity. The scene was very supportive of the change as well - it was a breath of fresh air for us and gave us a new motivation to work hard and strive toward success."

II. Does the song "Possessed by Heavy Metal" still have its priviledged place by you even now, when your second album "For None And All" is out, pushing your sounding more to the hard rockish haze? I mean, are SPELL still the band of frenzy, straight-ahead "heavy metal possession", or rather the one of the novel obscure heavines of "whipping sigils"?
""Possessed by Heavy Metal" will always hold a priviledged place for us, because it was important in representing and defining a period of our lives. We wrote that song when we were teenagers, thirsty and rabid heavy metal. We still feel the frenzy of heavy metal, but we've broadened our interests as well. We haven't moved away from that - we've expanded to include wider perspectives as well. We have no interest in sticking to one specific style and writing the same songs over and over. We love to discover new music and art and learn to play in new ways and write songs that reflect what is most important to us at the time. That's why "For None and All" sounds different than "The Full Moon Sessions", and our next album will be different again. We still stand behind our previous work completely, but we're not interested in repeating it."

III. When putting out your debut album two years ago, did you have the clear idea then, where you want to move your music with the next recording? Or what kind of sudden revelation prompted you to open the gates of the changed music perception on "For None And All"?
"I wouldn't say we had any intended direction to go in or a cohesive plan of how we wanted to sound. We don't try to write songs that sound a certain way, we just try to write the best possible songs we can. If that sounds like death metal or blues rock - who cares. We spend lots of time searching for new and interesting music, art, and inspiration at record stores, books, in nature, in discussion, and when we find something that interests us we share it with each other to inspire our work. We're not here to play pastiche, we're here to create the most relevant work we can, for ourselves."

IV. In your lyrics on "For None And All" you touch upon the rewarding occult themes of the duality of the profane world and its proscribed other-side, and the itching desires of a human innerself racked between the two. The occult quest could free a wretched human soul from the existential uncerntaity and give it some prospect of spiritual freedom. But is that price worth paying, as you point out in the song "Whipping Sigils"?
""Whipping Sigils" is about the hubris of those who seek to reveal, characterize, and control unknowable forces and elements. It is both in praise and condemnation of the Faustian drive to command that which is beyond the veil of human understanding."

V. Whom do you turn to with the album that is designed for none and all?
"Some may notice that the album title is an inversion of the dedication within a certain book which holds a good deal of value for us, but it also has more specific meaning: our work on this music didn't come from any obligation to a particular crowd or scene. Creating it came at great personal expense - financially, of course, but also socially: relationships were damaged and lost as we isolated and immersed ourselves into the task, opportunities were abandoned as our obsession with the project occupied us completely. In that sense, the album was created for none, to satisfy only ourselves. But at the same time, we're very proud of it, and so of course we've released it for anyone who wishes to interpret and enjoy or slander as they see fit - so in that sense, it's for all."

VI. Would you dislclose a bit the origins of and symbolism inscribed in the sigil that seals your albums?
"Certainly. To answer this, I've turned to our friend Scythe Bearer, the artist who created this sigil for us. He provided me with a very in-depth analysis, an excerpt of which I have included below, with his permission:

Every aspect of the sigil is intentional, I didn't want even the slightest element left to chance or simply due to aesthetics.
The foundational structure is based within a MASCULINE triangle. Essentially, it is an alchemical symbol for FIRE - one of the FIVE principal elements that compose the universe. As a PROMETHEAN element, it is the fire of the GODS - the ACTIVE force of creation and destruction in its most chaotic form. In the alchemical tradition, FIRE is used to accelerate development, change and transformation.
Working from the outside, each of the outer triangle's points represent one of the three members of the band in a variety of different ways, through both my own esoteric interpretations as well as my personal relationships with each of them.
The pinnacle of the triangle at it's highest point was used to represent LESTER SPECTRE chosen to be represented by an OPEN eye. Again, many layers of interpretation are possible but primarily the ILLUMINATION achieved by CLIMBING to the top of the pyramid/mountain (further represented by two downward reaching arms extending from the center point of the eye) to receive divine knowledge and self-realization. From the eye is dripping a single drop of BLOOD/TEAR which represents the shedding of parts of the ego as part of the transformation received from reaching the top of the mountain. This was also chosen as part of the NUMEROLOGICAL interpretation of each members as the letter "A" is the first letter of the alphabet taken from A(lester); The LEFT foundational point of the triangle represents CAM with THREE drops of blood ("C" being the third letter of the alphabet) and finally the RIGHT foundational triangle represents GRAHAM with seven drops of blood ("G" being the seventh letter of the alphabet).
Both Cam and Graham are depicted by outward facing SCYTHES (an analogy to their bass and guitar, respectively) which cut forth into the world and bleed forth the manifestation (the drops of blood) that is created through their instruments. Partly for symmetry's sake, I also included the planetary symbol for the SUN beneath Cam's scythe - as the first SUN/SON rising (as primary vocalist) and other reasons that I would prefer to leave unpublished.
Aside from the downward pointing/feminine triangle at the centre that represents the womb and gateway through which divine creation comes forth, the central part of the sigil is composed of another THREE main elements that have been combined to create ONE central focus (again, an analogy of the three members of the band coming together to create a sole product greater than each could have produced on their own):
The first element is an ECLIPSED SUN, at a base level the obscure/unseen knowledge from the NIGHT SIDE and an act of oppressing the demiurgic forces of creation that hinder the sight of those that search beyond.
The second element is a downward pointing DAGGER, a magical tool that is used in ritual to embody the WILL / element of FIRE.
The third element is the transforming fire of the RED KING / Sulfur (soul) of the philosophers (active, volatile, immaterial, etc.) that counteracts and is the counterpart of the feminine element of the WHITE QUEEN of Mercury/spirit (passive, fixed, material, etc.). The union of which is a central element of the Great Work. It is an ACTIVE force which purifies the filthy matter of earth (from the material world) into a pure and spiritual manifestation.
Again, many of these specific elements were chosen and meditated on because of the MANY COMPLEX LAYERS of esoteric meaning that they can have, besides just the basic shapes, the elements of BLOOD, FIRE, TRANSFORMATION, ACTION, etc."

VII. Two years ago, I got SPELL's debut album with a message from you, Cam, enclosed within the letter and written in pencil on a piece of paper (good old days and ways!), saying that you would like to try for a European tour soon. Is it now even more topical, when "For None And All" is finally out and do you already have some prospects with this regard?
"Thanks, I'm glad that you enjoyed receiving my letter. Whenever I ship orders out myself, I always include a letter or personal touch. I believe that sort of thing is very important, and it's the least I can do for someone far away who has chosen to spend their hard-earned money on our music or merchandise. We've been hoping for a long time to do a European tour - it's been our dream since we first began playing music. Unfortunately, not an easy feat. So far, ever tour date that we've ever played we booked ourselves, and never having toured in Europe before, it's a pretty daunting to think of all the boarders, visas, regulations, language barriers, contracts, and everything else that goes into booking a tour. We've still got our sights set on it, even more so now that our album has been released. Expect us in Europe sooner rather than later, and if anyone's got any advice or assistance for us, feel free to drop me a line at cammesmer at"

Thanks a lot for the interview. My support to the ever flaming SPELLcraft!
"Thank you! We're very grateful to have been included on 'Heavy like Hell!'"


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