Tales of Vampyric Romanticism
CoC interviews Christian Anderle of Ancient Ceremony
by: Pedro Azevedo
The metal scene is made of many love-or-hate situations; be it for extreme doom, black or death metal, traditional heavy metal, you-name-it metal, the use of classical instruments or female voices in metal... or vampyric themes being used in metal. Now this is where Ancient Ceremony step in. How many of you are indifferent to having vampyrism mixed in your music? Some love it, some hate it, but I don't know many who stay indifferent. It was a significant part of what made Cradle of Filth what they are now (and it sure has sold a huge amount of t-shirts and such for them). This became one of the topics in my e-mail conversation with Ancient Ceremony vocalist Christian Anderle. Both Ancient Ceremony guitarists have recently left the band and are now being replaced, as a new album is prepared; this and a better production may turn the follow-up to their _Under Moonlight We Kiss_ (reviewed in this issue) into something stronger. Read on to find out more about all this and Anderle's views on metal and vampyrism.

CoC: How would you describe the music and atmosphere to be found in your _Under Moonlight We Kiss_?

Christian Anderle: Unique symphonic darkness evokes romantic scenarios of gothic vampyre horror!

CoC: I know your band has been around for several years now, and I think vampyrism has become quite a trend in extreme metal during this period. Does that bother you?

CA: Each trend starts getting on one's nerves some day and unfortunately we have to witness this magnificent vampyre theme getting abused by too many weak fakes, currently. Most of them simply are unable to suck out the immense power this bewitching combination of different darkened facets offers -- posers like, for example, Nastrond, Mystic Circle or Black Funeral, who know absolutely nothing about the background, the emotions and the essential focus of vampyrism -- they are nothing more than silly trend monkeys. It is especially this fact that makes me furious, but to my delight there are also some bands that spread this majestic phenomenon the way it deserves to be presented.

CoC: How tired are you of being compared to your current labelmates Cradle of Filth because of your vampyric / dark romantic themes?

CA: At a certain point, I was a bit afraid there might perhaps be too many cries of plagiarism. Some parallels are obvious (and the fact we got signed up by Cacophonous did not make it easier, but should we have denied their great offer for such a reason?!) and are caused by similar influences, similar spirit and similar reflection. In the meanwhile, the situation has calmed down a lot as most people could read our arguments in interviews. Moreover, we have found our rather unique, individual musical identity through _Under Moonlight We Kiss_ and thus an increasing number of black souls experience that we are definitely no Cradle-clones. One aspect is that the story on the actual opus is a lyrical concept and the decision to do so was sealed back under the Winter moon of 1994/95, a time when this vampyre-trend (which was mainly caused by the tremendous success of CoF -- and by the way they've earned it in my opinion, for they have an original style and are very talented in composing and performing) had not started at all. The main argument is in any case the title song of our "Cemetary Visions" MCD, which was unleashed in February 1994. I wrote the poetry for this already in late 1993 and it deals with a vamypric love in the tragic, romantic, lovelorn, erotic and highly dark way. Hence we can state with it to have adapted this stuff even at a time when this normally more gothic-based theme was almost virgin-like to the genres of extreme metal!

CoC: How much do vampyrism and dark romanticism really mean to you, on a more personal basis?

CA: On the throne of my individual superior existence there are sitting two aspects: on the one hand my innermost true Satanic philosophy; on the other hand dark music as my leading medium of expression. As guiding seraphims I had to name vampyrism, dark romanticism, dark eroticism... anyway, I feed my mighty soul mainly with all that implies the divine embrace of darkness!

CoC: What do you think of that use of vampyrism in black metal, compared to how you use it yourselves?

CA: As already said before, this high number of silly idiots who only (ab)use it as a trend-theme pisses me off. But there is also a small number of bands that know how to evoke the deeper mood of it, of course Ancient Ceremony is amongst those supreme artists in my opinion. Nevertheless, my poetry on our next strike _Fallen Angel's Symphony_ shall deal also with several other themes, rather than only vampyrism, such as Satanism, gothic horror, mythology or angelology.

CoC: In your opinion, why does Satanism and vampyrism appear linked to each other in extreme metal so frequently?

CA: There is mostly a common spirit to be found in the fans and consumers of extreme metal (extreme music in general?!), consisting of a certain feeling of rebellion, of being different from the masses, combined with aspects of the darkside (new generation of black metal, for instance) or aggression (brutal death metal, grind...). This logically finds its reflection in the musical taste and, as a consequence, also in the lyrical illumination. Moreover, each metal musician who wants to earn a certain success has to sell his/her soul to Satan, haha!

CoC: What are your main musical and lyrical influences nowadays?

CA: We aim to create our individual Ancient Ceremony style and have managed to do so better than ever on _Under Moonlight We Kiss_. Our music is a rather unique mixture of elements such as death, dark, black, doom, heavy, gothic combined with darkwave, classical music and (horror-)soundtracks. My lyrics might be seen as a tribute to such masters as Byron, Nietzsche, Crowley, LeFanu, Poe, Goethe, Stoker, de Sade... presenting mainly gothic horror, vampyres and ghosts. Furthermore, I have to name as influences works on Satanism, black magic(k), mythology, angels..., dark photo-books (Marsden, Axelrod) and of course all music that offers a certain dark avantgarde feeling, horror-soundtracks ("Omen", "Dracula", "Interview with the Vampyre", "Frankenstein", a.o.) and movies as well as darkness (the central source which combines all those cited here!), dreams or visions. My poetry is highly individual and thus it is presented as a personal reflection of the dark illumination the above named grant to me!

CoC: Your band is from Germany, a country which is currently perhaps the largest consumer of metal in Europe. What are your feelings about that? Does it help Ancient Ceremony?

CA: Market and scene here are very vast indeed, which causes certain advantages as well as some fuck ups. It is definitely cool when it comes to gigs or tours, as most of the live activities in European territory are performed in Germany, moreover almost all shirts, CDs, etc. are available here. Nevertheless, there are lots of trendies and the commercialisation is increasing too much, business gets more and more dominant. Like at most other places trendy and silly, quantity seems to drown innovative quality, though there are regularly some good bands arising. The money to earn with a release possibly has a much higher importance than the passion for the music, but this is also a more global development, especially in the age of the CD, which means lower costs and higher profit. Being from Germany helps us when it comes to the booking situation (we started cooperating with a professional agency a few weeks ago), moreover I know several people working for bigger publications, which makes it a bit easier to get presented there through interviews or something... but of course the competition here is harder than in most other countries and thus the German market can be really tough and full of lies.

CoC: How do you view the impact of bands such as Paradise Lost and Moonspell in Germany through the release of much more commercial albums (_One Second_ and _Sin / Pecado_, respectively) that retain some dark/goth influences?

CA: I like [Paradise Lost's] _Gothic_ as well as Moonspell's first MCD [_Under the Moonspell_] and of course the great _Wolfheart_ album, but the other releases of both acts do not affect me at all -- especially the later ones that are the ultimate commercial crap without identity, without soul and without passion. Paradise Lost try to sound like the newer Metallica and Moonspell get more and more ridiculous through transforming into a weak Type O-copy. Well, the dark-goth influences get increasingly lost, for both formations have unfortunately developed into feeble poser bands. Nevertheless, we'll probably (hopefully) perform a festival gig in July with, a.o., Moonspell and the (German) chartbreakers Dimmu Borgir... I do not see a problem here, "bigger" bands bring a wider audience; they shall perform their show and we'll do ours.

CoC: If you could choose any place in the world to play live, where would it be? And at what time of the day (or night)?

CA: Here I have to name several places to answer this cool question: Carfax Abbey or one of Dracula's castles would be lovely, as well as a concert in a pyramid of ancient Egypt. But in general it would be greater than great to perform in cemetaries, castles, Victorian / gothic villas, ruins, churches, cathedrals, temples... all such places. Of course the show had to take place when dusk ascends or under the purity of the nightsky, dominated by our lunar empress and Her dancing children, the stars.

CoC: Please describe your view of what the perfect Ancient Ceremony concert would look like and what you would like to see performed on stage.

CA: The gig would be at one of the places named before, a gloomy candlelight scenario is presented whilst the dismal tunes of "Symphoni Satani" (a track from the upcoming album with reminiscences of Orff's "Carmina Burana" and Goldsmith's "Omen" soundtrack) embrace all the present dark souls as an overture. A coffin is brought on stage and a sinister girl wearing a black cape approaches with crimson fire in Her bewitching eyes. She opens the coffin and kisses me (for it is me who lies in there). I ascend and we start playing our superior compositions. I take Her cape away and everybody can witness her iconic beauty, the long black hair, the ivory skin, the crimson lips. She is wearing skirt and bra made of latex as well as high leather boots and presents some dance performance during our songs. Later she throws black roses into the audience and some other lovely girls are dancing all around, dressed as erotic angels with a white thin shroud. On the right, there is standing a statue of Baphomet made of ivory, on the left the same in ebony... well, I decide to stop here, though there are lots of further ideas for a dark choreography in me...

CoC: What musical changes can we expect for the forthcoming album?

CA: We'll start with the recording session for the upcoming opus _Fallen Angel's Symphony_ in late May together with G. Magin who already worked for acts such as Crematory (ultimate pussies!!) and Theatre of Tragedy. We are currently busy with composing the final missing track and then we'll do some final arrangments. There are some small changes to be expected as the songs themselves are a bit straighter in their structure and the mix of different genres here goes more between the songs. Hence it is a bit more "inter" than "intra" in comparison to _Under Moonlight We Kiss_, but do not worry, it will definitely be an album which presents the individual, rather unique style of Ancient Ceremony! Some songs will appear a bit softer with more goth-influence, whilst most compositions are a bit rougher... all in all they are again of a certain symphonic darkness. Creations such as "Death in Desire's Masquerade", "Devil's Paradise" or "Vampyresque Weddingnight" should turn out as some ultimate highlights. There will be a new female chantress (the other one was fantastic, but her behaviour besides the singing was unacceptable) and we also want a small choir to sing some passages; let's hope this will finally happen. Now with a new producer and new guitarists the discreet sound problems of _Under Moonlight We Kiss_ should be overthrown. Besides, I am currently busy with the aesthetic concept for the booklet and cover -- if some of my visions turned out as reality, the artwork for _Fallen Angel's Symphony_ will be definitely over the top. Time will tell...

CoC: Will your lyrical and atmospheric inspirations remain the same in the near future, or do you feel new sources of interest arising?

CA: _Under Moonlight We Kiss_ was a concept story and thus the lyrics remained mostly in the genre of this "gothic vampyre", but as already said, the next album will feature different poetical themes as the facets of the illumination of mine are vast indeed. I named some titles before, others like "Babalon Descends" or "The Tragedy of Forsaken Angel's" should state my words.

CoC: What is your main wish for the future of Ancient Ceremony?

CA: To reach an even wider audience without changing the music, to become bigger without betrayal of the own roots and spirit (unlike so many other acts). The cooperation with the booking agency will hopefully grant us an increasing number of live performances and the upcoming opus _Fallen Angel's Symphony_ has to become as divine as possible when it comes to the trinity of compositions, artwork and poetry. All in all, we aim at spreading our dark superior creations to as many lunatics as possible, perhaps we might reach a place as seraphim next to the throne of extreme metal within the following years.

CoC: Engrave a suitable epitaph for this interview here, if you wish...

CA: Thanx for this really impressive interview and best luck for you and your publication. The last copies of our _Where Serpents Reign_ demo are available for 6$, the MCD _Cemetary Visions_ costs 10$. Those who can not find _Under Moonlight We Kiss_ elsewhere should feel free to order it at the band's address for 16$ (all prices include p&p). Merchandise of us should be available in late Spring, Cacophonous will do some longsleeves whilst we manufacture our own t-shirt "Seducing even Angels" -- watch out for those. All darkened souls are recommended to embrace with the ardent aura of our majestic homepage at: http://www.grave.com/~mega/AncientCeremony/index.html

(article submitted 13/4/1998)


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