Interview with Meilenwald
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: June 18, 2007
No other band has pushed the boundaries of what Black Metal is capable of as a genre, or created such a unique musical landscape as Germany's The Ruins Of Beverast. Now in truth this band is just one man: the limitlessly talented Alexander Von Meilenwald, who was good enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk to me about his music.
Sargon: So what led musically to the evolution from Nagelfar to The Ruins Of Beverast?
Meilenwald: I think "Virus West" already indicated that Nagelfar were departing from the shores of all-too dreamy, melodic and "beautiful" Black Metal. The development to the point of founding The Ruins Of Beverast merely strengthened me in my decision to create music of immense gloom and trepidation, surreal and dark. I am composing the material with a certain intention of creating sceneries that have the potency to appear before the mind's eye, somehow perhaps comparable to a sort of movie, yet blurred and distant. This way it appears to be the most suspenseful challenge for me.
Sargon: I have to ask, even though you don't have to tell me: what does the name mean?
Meilenwald: As a mythological symbol, the ruined bridge of "Bifröst" (which is the original ancient nordic expression for the old German word "Beberast", which I modified to "Beverast") is a synonym for the end of the world. The literature of ancient Germanic belief in Pagan Europe bequeathes lots of different manifestations for the process of the apocalypse. One of them is the colossal bridge between heaven and earth, crumbling down when the eschatological giants ("sons of Muspell") ride over it.
Sargon: Rain Upon The Impure sounds very different from Unlock The Shrine, what led to the changes, and did you achieve what you wanted with each recording?
Meilenwald: I guess "Unlock The Shrine" was a lot more "audible" than "Rain Upon The Impure" is. The sound was more familiar, it was closer to the "usual" BM-productions and the songs were not that long, consisting of passably (!) comprehensible structures. It was my full intent to make "Rain..." sound uglier, more uncomfortable and heavier. "Unlock The Shrine" was a rather spontaneous recording, although it might not sound like that. However, I worked on more unique and independent sound characteristics for "Rain...". I wanted the album to sound "deeper" in all respects, darker and with less tendency to the high frequencies. I think this goal has been achieved. There are still some aspects I'll have to improve on future recordings though, but I am rather satisfied with the current result.
Sargon: What music influenced you to become a musician, and what bands/artists inspire you now?
Meilenwald: Really hard to answer. I started my first serious band as a fan of Death Metal, more precisely the first recordings of Unleashed, Entombed, Benediction, Morbid Angel, and I guess our very first attempts could be described as an infantile, ridiculous and helpless imitation of early (Swedish) Death Metal. Actually, most of these early heroic deeds are still on my mind today and I still adore them, but it is totally impossible for me to refer to certain bands as a definite influence for The Ruins of Beverast. I listen to such a lot of different music, and I guess all of it somehow appears in everything I create, yet it is not explicitly perceivable.
Sargon: Obviously The Ruins Of Beverast is a studio project, but I know you have played drums with a lot of other bands from the Aachen area, are there any you play live with or will be working with in the future?
Meilenwald: I am doing very few session jobs for friends of mine on the drums, just for the purpose of recording real drums instead of annoying drum-computers. I may not rate them as bands of mine, I have nothing to do with songwriting or the like. I will perform the live drums for Truppensturm, which is a one-man-project run by a friend of mine, who was offered a live perfomance with Black Witchery and Archgoat, so I'll help him out.
Sargon: How did the Van label come about?
Meilenwald: Well, I founded the label together with Sveinn, who is now its leader as my time is too limited. Actually, the label was founded to release "Unlock The Shrine". I recorded it for personal purposes; Sveinn really liked it and was excited to release it to a wider audience... Sveinn's work made the Ván become a serious and respectable underground label in Germany, and in view of our close friendship I do not spend a thought of changing the label.
Sargon: Can you tell us anything about the WOD brotherhood?
Meilenwald: The Wód-Ván was formed in 1995 by Zingultus (vocalist of GRAUPEL), Sveinn (the Ván-chief) and me. Back then, I remember, we certainly followed some kind of an ideology. The WV served as a union of likeminded individuals within our either amicable or local surroundings. All activities of the member bands were organised, motivated and "supervised" by the brotherhood. More than a decade later, it is now rather to be regarded as a union of the musical matters around our area. Its name was by the way the inspiration for the naming of the label Ván (the mythological river, consisting of the saliva of the wolf Fenris).
Sargon: I'm not the only one impressed with your work, and all the press I have seen on both albums has been very positive, did you ever expect this kind of response?
Meilenwald: No, really not. In my view, The Ruins Of Beverast create enormously ugly music that is very hard to find access to, and that goes for Metalfans as well. It is not professionally produced, not really well performed, not geared to currently "popular" Black Metal styles, not catchy and not politically motivated. Actually, it is merely psychotic. Thus, I cannot deny that I wonder where all this benevolence comes from...
Sargon: What do you do besides music? You said you have studies, so I assume you are in school, anything else?
Meilenwald: I am studying linguistics and history at the university of Aachen, and I am doing a side job to finance it, because studies in Germany are ridiculously expensive. There are very few things I can do besides it, there is just no time at the moment.
Sargon: Do you have any formal training in music? I would find it hard to believe that you don't.
Meilenwald: No. When I was a teenager I had actually formal training in electric piano, which I gave up rather early, because I saw no sense in it. I taught myself to play the drums and guitar throughout the years. The basics are not that hard to learn, and no formal training can properly focus on the essential skills I need to play this kind of music. However, my ambition was enormous, because music was (and still is) the true spiritual essence of my life, although it is not temporally at the moment, unfortunately. I observed some of my then favoured musicians to learn something from their way of playing the drums and guitar, and it was not that hard I think. Essentially, my passion for creating music was what mainly inspired me to continually improve my musical abilities in any sense; although - as I stated above - I do not really think "Rain Upon The Impure" to be performed exceptionally well (and that is not what is essentially important for The Ruins Of Beverast honestly).
Sargon: Where do you see your music going in years to come? Do you intend to keep recording as The Ruins Of Beverast? Are there other projects you want to work on?
Meilenwald: Remarkably, I do not have to spread any infantile rumours of splitting up the band and then reunite it when the (financial) time is right... I just keep on recording and releasing music whenever I feel like doing so, and that is a true feeling of independence. The Ruins Of Beverast will most probably split up officially as soon as I lose my life; until then I will work out all of my ideas, whatever they might be. Some time ago I had plans to compose some elements in the Industrial/Noise/Ambient-vein, but I abolished the idea indefinitely because of my lack of time and reduced motivation.
Sargon: What will you be doing in the immediate future? Will there be another album?
Meilenwald: Not immediately, no. A split-single with Dutch lunatics Urfaust is to be released very soon, and there might be another 7"-release in the nearer future, besides a contribution to the Ván-vinyl-compilation which is planned for later 2007. I guess the time is right to release some underground-stuff... I will have to concentrate on my studies for the time being, before developing the ideas for a new album.
Sargon: The lyrics you write are quite dense and serious, so it is often hard to tell what the songs are about. If you could choose what meaning people take from your music, what would that be?
Meilenwald: Well, the lyrics are mainly built upon metaphors and analogies. The essential element of them is the investigation of one's own philosophy of life, one's own view of the world and its organisms and proceedings. Wide parts of the lyrics are impeaching, cynical, sometimes (self-)destructive. However, I think the music of The Ruins Of Beverast is not really made for carrying a certain meaning to the listener, but rather the other way round: to involve the listener, to clutch and arrest him and pull him into a maelstrom. As I stated above, it is my central goal to create soundscapes of surreality, sceneries that are set up and decorated by the lyrics. If anyone will find himself standing alone on a vast plain instead of facing his cd-player, uncomfortably surrounded by a cold wind, then the song might have served its purpose...
Sargon: Are there any living musicians you would like the opportunity to work with?
Meilenwald: I think not. I really admire a lot of active musicians, but I cannot imagine what kind of collaboration I could develop with them. However, perhaps I can persuade Trey Azagthoth to contribute some leads to the next Ruins-album, and perhaps I will compose several vocal lines for Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, which she will surely be glad to perform. We will see...
Sargon: The traditional last question is: is there anything else you would like to say?
Meilenwald: Nothing special. Thanks a lot for your interest and attention, watch out for the great new album of Germany's Verdunkeln, and take care for yourself.
|Other information about The Ruins Of Beverast on this site|
|Review: Unlock The Shrine|
|Review: Rain Upon The Impure|
|Review: Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite|
|Review: Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer|
|Review: Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer|
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