The Fading Auras of Mankind
The Israeli Black Metal scene, if you can call it that, is quite an odd beast to reckon with. Diverse as all hell and very small, almost every band you encounter sounds radically different than the last. Especially between any ones that have any kind of size or traction. You have all your usual variants of course, Dimmu clones, early first wave wannabes, and all of their ilk, but you also have a few bands that are actually very much unique and interesting as they sound markedly different than most Black Metal bands you’ll come across. One band that exemplifies this difference is Tel Aviv’s Dim Aura. A relatively young band, Dim Aura today is one of the very few Israeli underground bands that I really keep a constant eye on. Basically, imagine Carpathian Forest meet Shining musically, and then insert a healthy dose of Punk riffing an attitude. It’s no YAITW or Kvelertak, it’s still 100% Black Metal, but it’s Black Metal that is as much “Grim” and “Frostbitten” as it is in-your-face , violent and burning.
I sat down with vocalist H. for an update on where they are-
B- So, what’s the story of the band?
H- Well, basically, Ferum, Ofir, and E.F.F formed the band without me. It wasn’t Dim Aura at the time. They used to play in another band called Sitra Achra, which I don’t know if you’ve heard about. They disbanded for several reasons and ten to fifteen years later, they met up and decided to play again. Ferum called me, I knew him as we released a split together with my solo project Crux Infernum and his project, Infernal Nature. He asked if I wanted to join the band. I came to like, some kind of an audition, really more of a jam and it jelled. They gave me their instrumentals, to which I added lyrics and it worked well. I met E.F.F and Ofir that same night, we clicked, and that’s it. We just started playing together.
B- You mentioned your solo project, Crux Infernum, was the transition difficult? between being in a solo project and a band with other members, strong personalities and different people?
H- Not really as I didn’t understand anything about being in a band or playing in public. In our first rehearsal , I just came in and said “lets play!” without like, any effects on the vocals, no reverb or delay. I was just like, “volume up! lets play!” I didn’t understand the idea of playing live for people. Even if it’s just your bandmates. Before that I just used to record by myself, in my bed room, in front of my lap top. Screaming at a shitty PC microphone. I wasn’t really shy about it or anything, it wasn’t a difficult transition. I gave it my best and that’s that.
B- Was your lap top impressed? (both laugh) No but really, the interesting question here then is, you’ve very organically developed an onstage show, an approach to playing live, did they give you any guidance? Did you do your own thing? how do you approach playing live after 6 years?
H- Actually, that’s a good question. After we formed the band we thought about how we should look to the public. How should we look live? What should be our “thing,” that differs us from other bands? We noticed that now a days, a lot of Black Metal bands play Shoegaze, in the manner of live shows. Most of them just stand and act very “grim” and “occult.” “I’m going to play with my rope and that’s it.” We wanted to bring back the…not really hardcore but the raging, banging your fucking head approach to Black Metal. In rehearsals we used to headbang all the time so it just flowed naturally into our shows. To give hell and not just stand there looking cool, “oh we’re so fucking dark and stuff,” it’s still a Metal show and you should act the way the music sounds. If the riff is really headbang worthy then you should fucking headbang. We do what feels right.
B- Why the name “ Dim Aura?”
H- We came up with that name like a month after we formed the band I guess. Someone brought it up and it sounded right. It’s a Dim Aura as the Aura of every person is somewhat fading and nothing will be left eventually. Which harkens to the nihilistic themes in the lyrics.
B- The band of course, formed in Tel Aviv, in the somewhat exotic locale of Israel, do you feel that has effected the band in any which way?
H- I’m not sure as i’m not really in touch with guys from other bands, at least not very much. Most of my friends aren’t generally in bands so I can tell you from my own experience only. I’m not sure it’s really a thing , except for the relations with the Nazi scenes in Black Metal. For example, in our show in Finland, there were a bunch of Nazi bands there. Nazi salutes and Nazi stuff. People approaching us “you look like you’re from Israel!” I still remember there was this one time, this ultra drunk guy walked up to me and said something along the lines of “this guy looks like he’s from Israel” to someone who I was talking to. I was like “well, I am” and he got upset, visibly upset and defensive. I said “Do you have a problem with that?” , just to point out, I was also drunk, it’s not like i’m in the habit of getting into fights with Nazis in Finland. He said he does, and I asked if he wants to leave the festival area to “sort” said problem. He just went quiet and I realised he’s just an idiot, I asked him again, and he said no and asked me for a cigarette. Other than that, we don’t really get any kind of special or different treatment because of the fact were from Israel. Most of the reviews we get mention at the top we’re from Israel, but that’s where it generally ends.
B- What are some of the band you feel are under-appreciated in the Israeli Black Metal scene? that should get more exposure?
H- Well, Mortuus Umbra are really good, they’re worth checking out as they’re very different than most Black Metal bands people usually listen to. The first Azamoth record is very good too, but I think they’re split up. They’ve been back on and off for years. Like I said, i’m not very deeply connected to the scene or to people in bands so nothing really comes to mind. There are a bunch of very good Punk bands, there’s a better Punk than a Black Metal scene here. Speaking of Punk, one of the best Grindcore bands here is one called Hatealldaylong.
B- D.A seems to be once of the few Israeli bands we see that really do manage to get out of Israel, having preformed in Steelfest and a variety of other European shows. You could literally count the grand majority of Israeli bands that have toured just on your fingers, all of them if you include toes, why do you think that is? also, how did Dim Aura break out of that?
H- The amount of bands from Israel that tour is not very large. Orphaned Land is pretty big, Hammercult and Shredhead tour around, but the reason there aren’t many is because the fact that it’s very hard to tour from Israel! There aren’t any labels that can support you.For example, lets say you have a band in Europe, you put out a decent record, most probably you can manage to get signed to some arbitrary label and begin to tour all over Europe. By a tourbus or a car. Not flights. You see we cant just drive to Europe from Israel and flights are obviously way more expensive. Meanwhile in Israel, you start a band, you spend a shitload of money to release a demo, EP or debut. Then you have to plan a tour, and pay for that tour on top! From your own hard working money, no one else helps out. Most bands have to work and have other responsibilities outside the band. I’m guessing this stuff comes first before playing in some festival or tour abroad. For us it was just like that, we got the opportunity to play in Switzerland and in a few places abroad and we had to finance it ourselves. We weren’t signed and we didn’t have a manager or label or anything like that, and I guess you just have to be persistent. That’s what separates those who stick from those who fade.
B- So, it’s been 4 years since the Negation of Existence, how do you feel about this release?
H- For me, personally, our one point that could’ve been slightly improved was the sound.Though i’m not sure my bandmates would agree, I think we didn’t get the production as we wanted on the record, even though it was mixed by Tore Gunnar Stjerna from Necromorbus Studios in Sweden. It wasn’t big enough, for me. I’m really proud of it musically, but as I found out, the production can weaken the riffs and the music. For me, that was our only misstep. I mean, not a misstep as it’s a good album, but it could’ve been better.
B- What were some of the lessons learned when making the debut of the band? what aspects do you think you’’ll take with you to the future?
H- Basically, the entire recording process. It took way too long on the debut album. We recorded the drums somewhere and were deeply unhappy with the sound of the drums, so we had to re-record everything. It was a waste of money. The actual process of recording man, I mean, it was my first time recording a serious record and not in front of a PC. I didn’t know anything about anything.I was just screaming into the mic and was like what the fuck “I actually need to scream in front of the mic and not hold the shit out of it like I usually do” It was hard for me. But I learned that before going into recording, that you should practice in rehearsal using the same method,just screaming in front of it,leaving some space between yourself and the mic, that that will help you record more easily. I learned from my mistakes, and now I just know how to prepare for recordings in contrast to shows. I know how to cater my vocal performances to each event, etc
B- What’s the meaning of the title, Negation of Existence?
H- Fucking nihilism at it’s core! Fuck everything! The actual title came from our drummer, E.F.F. He watched that Kevin Smith movie, Dogma, and in some scene of the movie, the arch angel or some shit said “something something bla bla bla ,thus negating all existence.” He had kind of a eureka moment saying, wait, that sounds like a good title for an album! So he mentioned it in rehearsal and we concurred. It fits with every song on the album and with the general vibe of the band.
B- When you say nihilism what do you mean? Because when I read the Negation of Existence, at least what I get from it is an ending to existence. The opposite to existence. Is the opposite to existence nihilism or nothingness? Jesus I just mindfucked myself on this (both laugh)
H- Nihilism is a broad concept but for me, Nihilism is just “ I am here, I won’t be here anymore at some point, and anything most of us do won’t really effect anything else at any point.” I mean, I guess Nicola Tesla changed everything but most of us will probably not do anything with our lives that will change the course of the lives of our specie. Most of us will probably live, have a family, spend some time here, and die. In like a hundred years, no one will remember Benek or H or anybody else we know.
B- How do you feel that N.O.E is a development over the EP R.U.S.T? I’ve been trying to come up with some kind of funny meaning for the acronym but i’m not really pulling it off , maybe next time!
H- First of all, R.U.S.T is a song in the EP, Ritualistic Unholy Self Torment is what it stands for! (both laugh) R.U.S.T was written, musically, mostly before I even joined the band. They actually sent me the demo tapes from R.U.S.T for me to listen to their material before I joined the band. Then I joined the band, we wrote the fourth song on the EP , and that was it. Meanwhile, on N.O.E, it was really a four man effort. Everything on that record was the four of us, the riffs, the drums, and everything in between. It wasn’t like they just presented me with the songs. It was more of a dynamic effort to write and record that album. Just four guys spending a lot of hours in the rehearsal space and studio to make it happen.
B- You mentioned that the music on NOE is a democratic effort, and that every band member contributes, but what’s the working process like ? is it sometimes difficult to work without no clear leader or line to tow?
H- The working process is usually myself, Ferum, and Ofir coming into the the rehersal space with various riffs we’ve worked on at home. We just brainstorm around those riffs at that specific day and see what works. Sometimes it takes us an hour to complete a song and sometimes it takes us a month. It all depends on how the riffs jell together.Then our drummer lays his drum lines, and we ask him if we don’t like it to change it up, add a cymbal or maybe up the tempo, anything like that. Is it hard being in a democracy? yes, very much so. Till this day I remember a specific note on the NOE album that I wanted done differently, and the three of them voted me out! I still remember that specific note every time I listen to it, which is at least not very often, as I don’t like to jack myself off to it that much. It was a hard transition, as it used to be just me without anyone telling anyone what to try and etc. But in general it’s way better, as four minds are way superior to just one.
B- You also write the lyrics correct? what are some of the nonmusical things that inspire you? What do you draw on when writing lyrics for Dim Aura? Please don’t shake your glass and say Satan…
H- “shakes beer like Gaahl in Metal a Headbanger’s Journey” Satan! next question please! (both laugh.) Jokes aside, yes, I write most of the lyrics , though my other bandmates do pitch in and bring their own pieces in. To be honest, nothing really inspires me. I just sit down when I have free time, listen to the demoes, and just let the song take me to some mental place that will work with it lyrically. I just listen to the songs again and again to let the songs bring it out of me. Like I said in other interviews, we’re not a traditional Satanic Black Metal band. I don’t write about any Satanic themes or use any Satanic imagery as i’m not a Satanist. I just listen to the songs over and over, most of the time it comes after a few listens. The idea elucidates and becomes specific as time goes on. Obviously I don’t just write about fantasy murder and death, I try to put my personal experiences and writing style in there. Just so that it won’t be so boring. I don’t know if anyone reads lyrics anymore but I try to make the lyrics as deep and meaningful as I can.
B- I’m not going to delve into specifics considering privacy, but what general things in life do kind of slither into the lyrics? what things are in that spot which you write in?
H- It sounds really cliche and overused, really an answer in every interview i’ve read seen or head but everyone goes through shit in their lives I guess. Everyone. Everyone have a depressed and dark side that needs to get out and be shown. When I write lyrics I let that side be a bit more expressed.
B- What appeals to you about Black Metal and these genres of music as a form of expression and as a person?
H- I’m not sure actually as I discovered Black Metal as a teenager. It was either Darkthrone or Dark Funeral, and I just heard it, it clicked in my head that this is the genre that sounds and speaks the way I want Metal Music to sound. The message it has to convey to the listener. Everything I wrote from that point automatically transpired a bit more to darker and more serious notes rather than just cutting yourself and dying, Emo shit. It just got to basically being a genre that felt like a lot of what was in my head and mind, it just clicked I guess.
B- The music also, at least to me, definitely has a strong Punky vibe, do you also feel this way? It has this bumpiness to it. I can definitely hear a bit of the Shining and more depressive influences but also a lot of very Punk influences. That to me, also correlate with the live shows and attitude. Do you concur?
H- Yeah, definitely. Mostly because our bass player, Ofir, and I really like Punk. Though we like different kinds of Punk, as he doesn’t like G.G Allin nearly as much as I do…G.G Allin is the fucking king as far as i’m concerned! So us two are really influenced by Punk, but for example, Ferum, our guitarist, is entirely not. He mostly listens to just Black Metal. Meanwhile our drummer, E.F.F, is possibly the most varied musically between us all. He listens to regular Israeli music, Punk, Black Metal,Death Metal and everything in between. He brings his stuff to the table, Ferum brings his stuff to the table as well and the both of Ofir and I bring our Punky-Thrashy type riffs into the mix. There’s definitely a lot of Punk influences, and live it felt right for us to be aggressive. To act, not really like a Punk band but not a typical Black Metal band onstage.
B- Of course, the artwork was made by Sonnelion of Blaze of Perdition, how did that come about? how does the artwork tie in with the lyrics ?
H- We emailed him, and he was like “alright fine, send me some lyrics from the album.” So we sent him all the lyrics, which I don’t know if that’s what he asked for but whatever. Then he sent us the first version of the cover which was different. B.O.P got into the famous bus accident around that time, and he went into a coma or something. He was injured badly. So we were like, alright, fuck, what do we do? So I contacted a good American friend of mine from the US, Joseph Condejas, a really good visual artist. I asked him if he could complete the artwork Sonnellion sent us, to which he agreed. That was it, he did a very good job with it. So Sonnellion basically did the artwork from the lyrics we sent him and Joseph made it possible to print. As far as lyrical relations, I believe that the lyric that caught him was that of the second song, The Golden Tombs. Seeing as, bluntly, the album cover has a bunch of tombs. It’s completely me saying that, so i’m not sure, but I believe that that’s the song that inspired him specifically.
B- What’s in the future? Ferum mentioned something about an EP?
H- We decided to release an EP or something of the sort, it’s not a full length album. It’ll probably consist of 2-3 songs that will be recorded live. Not like a “live record,” but the recording technique will be to play live in a room. It’ll probably be released on vinyl. Not sure yet. We also have 12 songs ready for the second full length, but we decided that after a while of being absent that it’d be better for us to come back with a smaller offering and then a full length. I believe that the second full length is well on it’s way to being ready, about 85% ready as a matter of fact, circa 11 or 12 songs.
B- So why did you decide that you wanted to come back with an EP? why do you feel that it’s important to come back with the EP first?
H- Because after the release of the NOE album we played a good few shows live and went into a “hiatus” of writing this new album, which took a while. it took a while seeing as we wanted to perfect it. Naturally it took a while for us, and we just decided that releasing a shorter taste of what’s to come will be easier for a listener to get into rather than throwing out a fucking 12 new songs mammoth. We just thought that it’d be easier to first get into 2-3 songs to grasp the idea of the more developed Dim Aura. It’d be much more listenable I guess, than a full new album after a few years with nothing new.
B- Is there anything concrete about this EP? the themes, any information you can share so far? What direction is it taking from the point you left off?
H- Most of the lyrics I wrote again, so I believe it’ll stay on the same line as most of our material. A personal and un-glorified approach to lyrics. No fantasy and demon themes, more grounded lyrics about individuals and their things. The music got way more professional and way tighter as far as i’m concerned. We added a second guitar role on some of the songs which we didn’t have on the previous releases. Like a second guitar line which adds more depth to the sound and to the music in general. It sounds to me like a more complete Dim Aura experience.
Dim Aura’s Negation of Existence is a Punky, Black Metal record that hits hard from several different angles. With that said, while it is diverse, it doesn’t feel spread thin whatsoever. The band puts into practices everything from Shining to Aura Noir and makes it work all together. The way the whole record comes together is interesting in and of itself, and definitely leaves a taste for the coming-soon more.
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photos: Elad Levy