There’s something to be said for music that reflects the time it was recorded in. It’s more than readily apparent that, unfortunately, the current epoch isn’t the most optimistic of eras. Between the degradation of the natural world and the constant state of war the world of mankind feels compelled to never leave, chipper tunes definitely don’t feel like they are an accurate depiction of the way things are right now. Emerging from the miasma of doom that hangs over our planet, Gorguina is one black metal band making music that mirrors the degeneration inherent at the heart of our global society.
Formed in Spain in 2020, Gorguina made its independent debut in October of last year with Of Shrouds and Daggers. The band is a two-person effort between drummer/guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Varg the Mighty and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist/art designer Hekate Chthonia. The band’s black metal stylings should appeal to anyone with a love for classic outfits such as Rotting Christ and Carpathian Forest, but Gorguina manages to take their inspirations and not simply ape them but utilize them to create their own wholly unique sound. I recently talked with the band about their formation, the debut record, and what the future holds for Gorguina.
First off, how did the band come about? How did you two meet and decide to form this project?
Gorguina: At first, it was intended as a solo project of Varg The Mighty, but after meeting Hekate Chthonia, and since we both studied at the same place at the time, it ended up being a duo. All of this actually happened even before the project had a name, so it has essentially been always a duo. The decision of forming a project together came from the alignment of our musical tastes and the ease we found complementing each other’s ideas.
What got you two into black metal in the first place and who are some of your influences?
Gorguina: On one side, Varg got introduced quite literally before birth, since he is a second generation metalhead, son of Lilith Necrobitch (Körgull The Exterminator, Countess, Beheaded Lamb, Spectre, Harridan, Dialalmol) and Akerbeltz Merciless (Akerbeltz, Körgull The Exterminator, Beheaded Lamb, Harridan, Repugnant Pigs, Dialalmol). In fact, Varg is his real birth name, given the close family relationship with the genre. As for Hekate, she got introduced to the genre through time in pursuit of heavier and darker music genres, realizing that Black Metal would be her true passion. Regarding the influences for our music, the main bands who have shaped the sound of Gorguina are Hades Almighty, Inquisition, Carpathian Forest, Rotting Christ, Mgla, Deathspell Omega, Varathron and Clandestine Blaze between others, though our music tastes are more extensive.
Being a two-person project, do you find that presents you with any unique challenges or benefits?
Gorguina: The fact of only being two members in the project allows us to reach a consensus on the musical direction of our songs much quicker, and the meaning of our lyrics is also easier to produce. Nonetheless, some inconveniences that arise may be the impossibility of a full rehearsal without tracks being played digitally, or the current impossibility of a live performance despite the option of finding guest musicians. Being a duo also limits at times the ambition of certain ideas, but with some additional imagination it’s possible to view the whole picture while only being able to add two details at the time.
How do you two go about writing the music side of things?
Gorguina: The usual formula we have used to compose our album, and that we’re currently implementing on new songs too, is that Varg The Mighty creates the general outline and concept of the song, and then Hekate Chthonia adds riffs, solidifies the structures and does some modifications to perfect it, ensuring that it truly follows a correct direction as to be considered dark, Black Metal and identifiable with our other tracks.
What’s the lyric writing process like? Who writes the lyrics and what are your inspirations with those?
Gorguina: The lyrics are mainly written by Varg, and they are usually written first to match the concept intended to transmit, regardless of the accompanying instrumentation. Then, the necessary changes are made to make them musical and cohesive with their songs, but sometimes the process is inverted, with the main outline being crafted to follow the music and the details being added later. As with the general concepts for the music, they are later reviewed by Hekate. Lastly, we translate them into another language if it fits better the idea, such as Latin or Greek. Our lyrics are inspired by classical literature (such as Virgil or Aeschylus), metaphysical philosophy (such as Plato or Descartes), history and mysticism, especially demonology (such as the Lesser Key Of Solomon or the Necronomicon) and ancient cults.
Obviously, the band is very inspired by the occult and supernatural. What’s your experience with those subjects on a personal level and what draws you to those subjects?
Gorguina: We have sometimes been exposed to supernatural occurrences of low intensity, but what truly inspires us about the occult is its inherent opposition against humanity’s general ideals, beliefs and consequent flaws. Occult philosophies such as Satanism, Thelema or paganism also have an underlying beauty that allows the inspiration of much more art than other subjects, their historical rebellion against established mistakes is exemplary, and many of their concepts align very well with dark auras which are intended to be crafted when performing Black Metal.
Staying with the lyrical themes, you write a lot about the declining state of
mankind and the world in general. What’s your outlook on the state of the world and does writing about those feelings help you deal with the general shitty nature of life? As a fan, I tend to gravitate toward more pessimistic lyrics since I think it’s one of the best ways to deal with things that you more or less don’t have any control over.
Gorguina: Our lyrics definitely fall in the pessimistic category, and this clear state of decadence in mankind often feels as the only natural lyrical theme, especially for aggressive music genres such as Black Metal. Singing about humanity’s blindness and race towards the abyss also helps to add the necessary passion to the vocal performance, and I guess writing about this subject does help to cope with our surrounding psychic desolation. Therefore, our outlook on the state of the world is the one expressed in our lyrics, although to avoid being an average band which directly moans about its member’s troubles, we add music’s necessary bit of art in the form of intense metaphors and symbolism, allowing at the same time the message to only be understood by those who deserve to. As so, we view our current world as a sacred place of beauty which is being increasingly corrupted by man’s foolish recklessness, and any desperate cry for change from within the plague seems unlikely to change the events unfolding. Nonetheless, we make sure we distance ourselves from the creation of further problems for Nature as much as possible. Perhaps our song which expresses our views on the topic more clearly is “The Veil Of Condescension.”
What was the writing/recording process like for the debut? It’s a confident record that feels fully realized and it’s impressive that you co-produced it yourself. Did you find that having more control over that aspect helped get your vision down as accurately as possible?
Gorguina: At first, everything was done moderately blindly, given it was the first recording for both members, but thanks to the ease of recording at Redrum Studio (our home studio), there wasn’t as much pressure as in a normal recording process. While the composition was ready before beginning to record, it’s true that the songs changed drastically from the demos to the final result (especially the vocals). The constant lockdowns during the pandemic also helped to record more comfortably at home. Since all the recording process was done at Redrum with the crucial help of Akerbeltz, there wasn’t any time restriction and ideas could flow freely even after laying down some tracks. I reckon that the circumstances of the production really helped to lay down an album as close to the original visions for it as possible. With the acquired experience of the debut, future releases will surely have an even more accurate creation than now. It is also definitely worth mentioning that without the absolutely virtuous mixing and mastering by Javi Félez at Moontower Studios, this album wouldn’t have sounded even a fraction as well as it does.
The artwork for the cover is a very good companion to the music. What does that cover represent to you and who did the artwork there?
Gorguina: The album cover is a picture of Hekate in the woods taken by Varg, and it’s intended to serve as a tribute to similar covers such as the one of Black Sabbath’s debut or Darkthrone’s Blackest Trilogy, as well as to represent the obscurity of the music within the release. Furthermore, the relation between the figure (Hekate) and her surroundings is meant to display Mother Nature in her glory, shadowed by man’s increasing blindness. Her look of scorn mixed with sorrow showcases the most likely divine reaction to humanity’s increasingly destructive attitude towards its land.
What is the black metal scene like out there in Catalonia and how has it helped you as a band?
Gorguina: We feel like Catalonia has a powerful Metal scene that spans over virtually all subgenres, and our underground thrives and has always been active. As for the Black Metal scene, there has been one since the ’90s with a lot of great bands, labels and concerts. Some good offerings from our scene for whoever may be interested are: Atman, Foscor, Blazemth, Argar or Inverted Cross, (among) many others. Given Varg’s family’s close link and full participation in Catalonia’s Black Metal scene, we’ve always felt tightly connected to it, and it has definitely inspired us to create our own music.
As a black metal band, what’s your opinion on the current state of the genre? It has felt like the genre has been going through a bit of a growth phase lately with more of an emphasis on musical ability, which has led to some pretty solid albums in the last few years but also a ton of people trying too hard to just replicate their favorite bands without adding anything new.
Gorguina: We agree with your statement. While the number of Black Metal bands has drastically increased lately, many new albums tend to be mediocre, but if you know where to search, there still are some amazing releases being published. As we see it, there are many bands that don’t get out of their comfort zone and sound as shy clones of classics or amalgamations of a whole scene, and there are other bands which put this emphasis on musical ability, neglecting the artful side of music, and their results are hollow displays of badly exploited virtue which stray too much from the original message as to appeal to the intended audience. Lastly, there are bands in-between which put to good use the current near-universal accessibility to theory, discographies, and similar information to continue innovating in directions which reminisce the genre’s masters while still adding new elements that identify them as unique musicians, and their resulting music still conveys the dark, furious, mystical and wretched auras which Black Metal was crafted to transmit. Perhaps with the increasing quantity of bands it may be harder to find the ones that stand out, but we feel that it is surely worth the search still. The underground won’t stop spewing out gems.
Lastly, what’s next for Gorguina? What are your goals for the next few years of the band?
Gorguina: We don’t intend on stopping any time soon. We currently have enough songs composed for a second album and are polishing some details before beginning to record initial demos. Other than that, we’ll probably start offering some merchandise in the near future and we’re considering the idea of finding guest musicians to allow live performances.