Interview: Hordes of the Black Cross

The Aussie bunch known as Hordes of the Black Cross specialize in lethal black thrash that goes straight for the throat. The following interview was conducted with vocalist Halla and bassist Korpse Horde in June, 2017.

Greetings! Firstly, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. How’s it going? I suppose the heat is killing you guys over there at the moment?

Halla: Yes indeed! Thanks indeed for having us on board with Underground Siege.

I have since relocated from Melbourne, Victoria to another state call New South Wales. Where my area is; it’s known as far North Coast, Northern NSW or Northern Rivers. So it’s warmer and humid here but more of a subtropical climate. I live deep in the national forest on an off grid house. It makes you realise that in the deep scheme of things, your life is minute as compared to the chaos of the jungle system. In addition, I have seen a lot of snakes slithering in my area.

Melbourne does get the heat – dry scorching heat. I can’t stand the heat but if you’re playing hell’s music, then you have to be in the fire! I’m not a huge  fan of Melbourne’s winter either as it’s an urban, concrete winter. We don’t get frostbitten landscape and snow unless you’re up in the alpine region. All we get are overcast days, rain, wind and dankness. It’s quite boring and dull in winter but cold and grim nonetheless. My other bandmates are still currently living in Melbourne. However I have murderous desires to live in Tasmania. It’s really far down south with wild landscapes and equally wild weather. Only the strong survive.

Could you give us some basic info about the current line-up, history, and what you’ve released so far?

H: The black flame was initially lit with just myself, Korpse Horde and Thormentor and we started practicing and jamming since September/October late 2010 – drums, bass and vocals. It was challenging to find the right guitarist but fortunately we have Hate Blaze to partake in it a few months into it. Everything fell into place quickly with songwriting and band practices but it was only sometime in April 2011 that we’ve committed ourselves to exhume our black arts. And the rest is history.

Our releases so far had been

Self Titled Tape – 2011

Split 7” with Terra Australis – 2012

‘Dawn of War, Nights of Chaos’ 12” and CD album – 2016

Split 10” with Funeral Moon – 2017

Thus after 7 years and 46 shows of live flesh corruption, we are taking a hiatus from live performances to pursue a sabbatical and other personal commitments.

Can you give us some details about each member’s input as far as the writing process goes?

H:

Thormentor – drums

Korpse Horde – bass

Hate Blaze – guitar

Halla – vocals

Everyone except for me is involve in the.  songwriting process.

What led to the choosing of the moniker and what does it represent?

H: Moniker as in the band name? It was rather difficult to find a band name that will suit us in all forms. I remember it being a process and so many names were thought of but when ‘Hordes of the Black Cross’ came along, we knew that was the one. I also believe the pressure of having an impending first live ritual made us deciding on that one! My personal take on it is this – it conjures and inspires an image of a huge horde riding wild across the bleak tundra with massive broadswords. I know this might not be a very unique or original imagery but that idea is always stuck in my head. I myself am a huge fan of deserts, remote areas, void spaces and hostile environment. In Australia, we have plenty of that. I have travelled in some of them but I desire more.

Your debut album, Dawn of War, Nights of Chaos, is a great slab of thrash-infused black metal. I’m surprised over the fact that it was self-released, since I believe that material of such depth could easily gain the support of a credible label. Care to shine some light?

H: Thanks for acknowledging that. I think that where we are at the moment, we are capable of taking the band to a higher level. We would like to have our materials distributed internationally and ourselves playing in South America, Japan, North America, Asia, Europe and Scandinavia in the next few years. We even have desires to actually live it rough in Europe for a few months and just tour. However it can be a very arduous process of networking as we rose up as relatively unknown in the black metal community in late 2010. And we still are. We are not the most proficient in regards to promoting ourselves except just through word of mouth, live shows and with a zine like yours to be heard. I myself spend very little time online. I do know it’s a huge task to be out on a certain level.  And it’s challenging of course amongst a sea of bands out there to really stick your neck out. However from all of our past live assaults, we have been raising hell with some of the best Australian black and death metal bands and supports for international bands. Of course at this peak, we have decided to be on a hiatus. However that is fine as outside the band, we all have our personal lives to lead and pursue other commitments. The band itself has been a huge part of our lives as we have played in amazing venues alongside killer bands alongside our rabid comrades and maniacs that headbang to our set.

When the time and space is right to work in alliance with a label, that opportunity will reveal itself.

How integral is the whole “DIY” ethic? Surely, it must have cost a fortune to release it on both CD and LP yourselves? How many copies of each format did you make?

H: Like what I’ve mentioned above, we are relatively unknown when we first formed as a band. And being in that state has made us very fiercely independent. Somehow it just falls into place as we want to work according to the pace that suits us well. The tape was from memory 100 copies, the split with Terra Australis was 300 for the 12” album and 500 for the CD and lastly 300 for the split 10.”

In regards to the DIY ethic it just fell into place with no intention of claiming we are one. We just worked with what we got. That somehow got sown into the way we operate. We have our own chamber for band practices and all of the releases have been recorded by us.

We have our connections and black hearts with playing alongside hardcore punk bands in your non traditional metal venues such as squat and abandoned warehouse spaces. Some of our best and deadly shows have been at hardcore punk shows. The audience have been known to crashed into us alongside busted pedals, crashing cymbals, mic stands and utter chaos. It was gutter!

A memorable live set was us playing in an abandoned warehouse with other hardcore punk bands. The police got news of the “illegal” assembly. From memory, halfway through our set, there was already a gathering of the police outside. Someone threw a glass bottle in the warehouse and they stormed in. Everything got shutdown. For the longest time ever as we slowly get our gear out with a sense of confusion, impending chaos and tension brewing, civil disobedience was the order of the night. Trouble erupted on the streets with the police clashing with the crowd.

How long were you working on the material? It’s been well over a year since its release – how has the reception been?

K: We spent a long time on the album, Some songs on the album were quite old, around since the demo tape was recorded in 2011 and some were written during the end of the recording process and had never been unveiled live before. We have always recorded everything ourselves which is great that you can spend as much time as needed and without requiring any external influence, but this can be a double edged sword, as it’s easy to obsess over mixes and simply waste time, but we are very happy with the end result and it has been well received on Australian soil.

What kind of subject material do you explore in your lyrics? Also, who did the artwork and what does it depict? It has a really cool medieval feel to it and suites the aura of your music.

H: In the broadest of sense – the chaos of the worlds above, below and the spirit that traverse in between. Through the turmoil and war of our nightskies and infinite worlds beyond, it serves as a conduit in relation to our mortality. Death, dreams, nightmares and the everlasting search for knowledge……

Bartłomiej Kurzok from Poland has been our artist since the first 7” and shirt design. We initially had a draft concept of what we would like for the album cover – war, death, chaos, feasting and fire. We also gave him our lyrics to take in as further ideas. Bartłomiej took that in and from there, he worked his black magic.

Tell us about your live performance and what one ought to expect when attending your shows? Is playing live an integral part of your act? Do you prefer the studio or stage?

H: Pure black metal chaos in every sense of the word. Live performances are crucial to exhumed all the hours spent on practicing and writing the music. It also gives us the chance to connect with the audience. At the end of the day, we are giving it back to our comrades, brethren and those who have given us the platform to exist. Without them, I feel our existence as a band is futile. In regards to studio or stage, it has to be a balance of both. The studio gives us the chance to truly focus and capture inwardly on our black arts whereas as a live unit, we released that dark energy out.

As I understand it, you’ve shared the stage with bands like Inquisition, Abominator, Denouncement Pyre, etc. – what can you tell us about the overall turnout/experience? Did you manage to win over some fans?

H: It is without a doubt one of the many highlights for us as a band to be playing alongside these bands. The turnout of course are huge as they have been around for awhile and very much established in Australia and overseas. We had the opportunity to play interstate shows which allowed those who have not witnessed us execute our chaos.

I have many good words to say about Inquisition – bold onstage and down-to-earth off stage. However I must say being on the same bill for a metal festival ‘Evil Invaders’ with Sadistic Intent has to be a crucial moment in time for me. Such honest passion and true essence of what it takes to play extreme music. It was a deadly, hellish set! True possession in every sense of the word.

I suppose you are quite picky when it comes to the type of riffs and parts you use in your compositions? Do you rehearse much? If not, do you spend many hours per day practicing your instrument?

Korpse Horde: We do find it hard to all get together these days with daily life and all, But yes we tend to record as we write and rework riffs as needed if it doesn’t feel right, sometimes we can do this to excess which can have a negative impact. These days we are trying to simply our song writing and structures.

What are some of your biggest influences? I think it should be quite obvious to anyone who listens your music, that you are not influenced by disco or jazz.

K: That question could open up a can of worms..We often enjoy getting drunk having sing alongs and end up serenading each other to Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb, however I would say as a collective Dissection, Carpathian Forest, Aura Noir, Destroyer 666 and Kreator would have to cover most bases. Fuckin’ Metallica rules too eh..

What is your thoughts on the current state of Australia’s underground scene and which bands do you support/recommend (local and abroad)?

K: Personally I think Australia has a quite unique and interesting music scene, but it does seem to fluctuate every few years in activity. Lately there doesn’t seem to be many new bands popping up, rather a resurgence of golden oldies that had been lying dormant for some years. Something which is equally exciting since we have quite a few heroes of yesteryear such as Abominator, Vomitor and Destruktor. Nocturnal Graves and Denouncement Pyre are also infamous amongst the Aussie metal scene, but I get more excited these days of the lesser known underdogs. Of course Nocturnes Mist have been at it for years but I think this is a highly underrated band – pure black metal chaos leaks out of southern hell!!

H: The usual suspects are always there. If you have not heard of them, then you have no business in the game. Here are my personal favourite and brethren of Australian black and death metal bands – Terra Australis, Elysian Blaze, Ignis Gehenna, Sanguinary Misanthropia, Abraxxas, Diabolical Demon Director, Funeral Moon, Decrepit Soul, Christ Dismembered, Deathripper, Stormbane, Eskhaton, Contaminated, Mongrel’s Cross, Wolfe, Encircling Sea, Vaiya, Oligarch, Bastardizer, Golgothan Remains, Dead River Runs Dry. And two bands that have recently emerged are Reaper and Evoker. Keep your ears peeled for them!

10 albums you can’t live without.

H: In no particular order:

Nightbringer – Apocalypse Sun

Impiety – Skullfucking Armageddon

State of Fear – Discography

Carpathian Forest – Black Shining Leather

Bathory – Blood Fire Death

Dawn – Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triachy)

Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane

Inepsy – Rock and Roll Babylon

Discharge – Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say. Nothing

Diamanda Galas – The Divine Punishment

K:

Kiss – Self Titled

Motorhead – No Sleep til Hammersmith

Bathory – Nordland

Carcass – Heartwork

Marduk – Panzer Division Marduk

Craft – Void

Impaled Nazarene- Suomi Finland Perkele

Vinterland – Welcome My last Chapter

Thin Lizzy – Renegade

ZZ Top – Eliminator

Lastly, what does the future hold for Hordes of the Black Cross? Thanks for your time!

H: The future has already happened. We are living in a world towards nothingness. Exist in chaos! Hails to you J.H and Underground Siege. Keep the black flame alive!

JH