There doesn’t seem to be a more readymade target or subject of discussion for metal musicians than religion. By their very nature, our religious institutions seek to control individuals and get them to conform to their way of thinking and their beliefs. If you know anything north of nothing about metalheads, conformity really isn’t our bag. Thankfully for those of us walking the Left Hand Path, Irish black metal thrashers Sacrilegia have us covered.
Formed in 2018, Sacrilegia has been tearing it up in their local scene as well as making waves internationally, thanks in part to their 2019 debut, The Triclavian Advent, as well as a set at Maryland Deathfest last month in Baltimore. With one killer album under their belts, the maniacs in Sacrilegia are looking to further expand their fanbase with their upcoming EP. I recently caught up with D.Rdrgs over email to get the story of the band and what fans can expect from the future of Sacrilegia.
As a relatively new band, your 2019 debut is probably a lot of listeners in the States first introduction to you guys. How did the band come about and how did you guys all meet?
D.Rdrgs: I guess we met just by hanging out with friends in common from the Dublin scene, as I was relatively new to the city/country back then. After exchanging ideas and examining each other’s willingness to play something different from what existed in Ireland, we both felt the need to play more riff-based metal rather than solely atmospheric and drenched in boring effects music, so we started from there. I don’t want it to sound as if it was a revelatory moment, but there was an element of frantic violence that seemed to be lacking in Irish metal bands and we wanted to be able to make music that was memorable beyond the time you were actually listening to it. We also knew that we would take on religion as a theme, as Ireland offers quite a lot of insights on that matter.
You guys have a really cool black metal meets thrash sound. What got you guys into extreme metal and who are some of your influences?
D.Rdrgs: I can safely say that the three of us started in metal in our early teenage years at least. I suppose we all got directed towards this genre through the people around us and we were fortunate enough to have met the right people, whoever they were to each of us. We’re all big Slayer and Bathory fans, and Possession was a band Jason and I often discussed when forming the band. But we also recorded covers for Armoured Angel and Absu (the latter should be featured in a tribute album soon), and have been trying out our own spin to songs by bands that range from Ancient Rites to Master’s Hammer, so inspiration might arise from very unrelated bands at times.
Like I said, blackened thrash is kind of how I’d describe your sound but genre classifications in general can be pretty limiting, especially when you have a band like yours that combines a lot of different influences. How would you describe the Sacrilegia sound? Your songs really are a riff fanatics dream and there are so damn many great ones throughout the album!
D.Rdrgs: To be honest, the black/thrash tag is just a general guideline, because people have very different ideas of what that subgenre represents, and we are not necessarily into all of them. What we’ve been actually aiming at is finding our own sound within that period of undefined genres and adding 90s Black Metal influence to that blend of metal, which they wouldn’t have the chance to have done at the time for obvious reasons. You may find a variety of riffs that look up to bands such as Blasphemy, Beherit, Demoncy, Morbid Scream, Nifelheim, Carpathian Forest, Aura Noir, and even Vlad Tepes among the songs. The list is endless and it doesn’t involve only bands we all like. I think we often try to listen to certain bands and strip their music from the characteristics of its time so we are able to bring that back to the original rawness and organic sound that belongs to the inception of extreme metal.
What’s your writing process like for the music aspect of things? Do you have a primary songwriter or is it a collective effort?
D.Rdrgs: We have worked in different ways for different songs, but I would say it’s mostly a collective effort. Even though any of us is totally free to come up with a full song idea on their own and we then refine it as a band. I personally don’t believe in compromising and being democratic when it comes to writing though. We are a three-piece band and if any of us isn’t 100% sure he likes the slightest thing in a song, that part is not gonna make it to the song or the song isn’t gonna make it to the album. There’s no such thing as a perfect record, and I am actually quite fond of imperfections myself, but we would rather listen back to our songs in the future and have as little regrets about them as possible.
What’s the lyric writing process like? What is it that you set out to do when you write a Sacrilegia song and what do you want listeners to take from the meaning behind songs? Do you have any influences for your themes?
D.Rdrgs: The unrelented fanaticism ordered in the bible, works of philosophy, and observations of the status of belief systems in our time have been great sources of inspiration. The band’s name should say it all, but I actually like the fact that we don’t multiply unabashed insults to a religion in decline, but we rather draw observations about certain fundamental aspects of religion in our own twisted way of referencing it.
You guys have a real flair lyrically and visually for taking on christianity. I was wondering what your background with religion was and if there is any kind of catharsis for writing lyrics on the subject. I grew up in the midwest of America, which is a very openly religious place. I don’t think anything made me gravitate to bands like yours or Slayer and Deicide more than dealing with the hypocrisy of religious people first hand. You grow up with the threat of things like hell and hearing how certain music is basically so bad that you have to burn for eternity just for listening, and it really does give it a forbidden appeal that ends up drawing you to it when you get a little older and have little more freedom to seek out different things.
D.Rdrgs: I am originally Brazilian, so I totally understand where you’re coming from as we have pretty similar religious backgrounds in the so-called new world. But Ireland had a really hard time with Christianity at the epicenter of their issues until recent years. I don’t see our music as a form of catharsis as I believe we are well resolved in regards to our attitude towards religion, especially when it comes to the Catholic church.
What was the writing/recording process like for The Triclavian Advent? Being your first LP, were there any particular challenges to getting your songs down on a record for the first time? How did you decide on the title for that one?
D.Rdrgs: Firstly, I need to say we hadn’t planned for a full album straight away. The album material was meant to be a 4-track demo, but after we recorded 8 tracks thinking we could do with a few extra tracks for the future, [and] Invictus suggested we put out an album with 30-odd minutes of music. In fairness, I don’t think they had to ask twice on that one.
We literally exhausted out all the ideas we had inside of us playing four rehearsals a week, looping riffs and drum beats, and trying different ideas in classic Slayer-fashion and we eventually got them done just in time to take our flight to Rome and record them. I am a firm believer that some things can only be done under pressure, so we have set an intense and sometimes stressful mindset from the onset…
The Triclavian Advent was meant to represent the start of an experience bigger than the mere notion of religion as an organized set of rules, so I thought it would be a right fit for a band that talks about faith, religion, sacrifice, and a controversial god as an idea the seeps into people’s everyday lives. From the crucifixion on, christianity and its consequences were in the hands of each one that believes, which we can safely say has granted people with plenty of motivations to make the world a more fucked up place to dwell.
The album artwork for your debut is really stunning and sure to offend all the right people. How did you decide on the artwork for that one and who did it?
D.Rdrgs: Chris Kiesling of Misanthropic Art has done the cover and we gave him no more than a few references plus total freedom to create, so the credits are all his on this one. I am a big fan of Gustave Doré’s biblical paintings as they portray the darkness of such ancient writings, so we thought Chris would also be able to do the same justice to our songs and he did a great job. However, I don’t think its primary focus would be to offend anyone and I often discuss the purpose of Christ-bashing art in music with other people who are also into metal. I suppose this music scene operates within a very closed circle of like-minded people when compared to the magnitude of religious followers and we are an incredibly small band in the periphery of Europe, so there’s hardly any real offense taking place even to a local level. Even bands such as Watain and Behemoth (like them or not) who recently pushed pre-existing boundaries and have a much bigger reach often reinforce shared values within Black Metal’s fundamental mindset and refine the focus of rebelliousness within this genre. But the world today is way less hostile to anti-religious people to be bothered with metalheads ranting about Satan, Christ, and whatnots. Do you remember the last time antichristianity was controversial? Or the last time a metal cover was really controversial? Shock-value has unfortunately descended into “exclusively political” and we’re not interested in that route. I suppose we’re finally entering a time where the idea of god is in its agonal gasps and both believers and critics will have a hard time finding something else to fill its void very soon…
What’s the extreme metal community like over there in Dublin and who are some other bands that our readers should check out?
D.Rdrgs: There seem to have been a surge of new bands a few years back and I used to believe death metal was on the rise here, but it cooled down pretty quickly. If you want to check a few Irish acts I’d recommend Coscradh, Vircolac, Malthusian, Zealot Cult, Procession of Spectres, The Grief, Incessant, The Collector and Death the Leveller. At least these are the ones at the top of my head right now.
You guys are playing Maryland Deathfest this year (it’s my first time hitting the festival and I cannot wait), how did that come about and how does it feel to be playing the main stage with a ridiculously stacked lineup [Ed. note: This interview was sent before MDF and received completed after the fest]?
D.Rdrgs: We hope it will be a great experience. That line up is just ridiculously good, we have barely seen most of those bands playing live before, let alone opening before their sets. But yeah, we’re very excited to go over and play to American audiences… there will be two other gigs on the way down to Maryland, one in New York City and the other one in Philadelphia, so if anyone reading is around on that week, just come along.
We originally had an 8-date tour planned supporting Vircolac and Spite, which is how all this came about for us. But after two years of this COVID madness a lot had to be changed.
Lastly, what’s next for Sacrilegia? What are your goals for the future of the band?
D.Rdrgs: We are releasing a four-track EP on Invictus Production by the end of the year, so keep an ear to the ground. After having played America we’ll focus on promoting this new release in Europe with upcoming gigs in September along with Venefixion from France and then play The Abyss Fest in November. This year will be all about hitting as many stages as we can… we’ve had enough of sitting around and waiting.
Photo at top: Album cover for The Triclavian Advent.