Into Dusk and a New Dawn – An Interview with ADARRAK

            A melodic and brutal embodiment has recently emerged in the form of ADARRAK, and their full-length debut titled Ex Oriente Lux is currently shredding the globe to bits. After reviewing this monumental output, I had the privilege of engaging the source directly to learn more about this work and the creative entity behind it. Now it’s time to uncover more details about the inspiration guiding this epic force, the significance of themes explored in their new creation, and what lies beyond the horizon for ADARRAK.

Congratulations on the release of Ex Oriente Lux! Could we begin by covering some details about the band’s formation? What are the origins and meaning behind the name ADARRAK?

Zigor: George and I used to play in another band and we always said we should make some music together. When that other band went nowhere, we started writing in my very basic home studio. Thus, Adarrak was born. The word Adarrak is Basque for “horns” which is pretty metal and an easy name for folks across the Globe to pronounce.

Members from bands including NORSE, HEADCRUSHER, and DESPITEOUS are also among your ranks. How have these different backgrounds contributed to the sound of ADARRAK?

Gustavo: I think our backgrounds have helped to create this interesting mix in the music. Even though we all have a common love for extreme metal, we all listen to different types of bands and subgenres. I guess this all helps in the end to create something different to what we have done in the past.

The title Ex Oriente Lux is a phrase meaning “from the East, light comes.” How did this come to represent a main concept for your debut?

Zigor: While George is a local, both Gus and I are Westerners. I’ve always been fascinated by the similarities (more than the average person would think) and differences (fewer than the average person would think) between the East and the West. It’s amazing that COVID coincided with us finishing up the album and then the whole marketing and launching effort and those similarities and differences were exacerbated as we saw the World plunge into chaos thanks to the pandemic. 

In terms of the main concept, I wanted to ensure we gave the debut album some of an Eastern flavour (at least conceptually), regardless of what we do later and where we go in Life and musically. It’s partly a tribute to our host home here in Singapore and the life we’ve led here.

The album features stunning cover art that clearly makes its own statement. What was involved in the design of this artwork and how would you describe its contents or symbolism?

Zigor: You said it above – first the original idea of “out of the East comes light” minus the religious meaning since I am not religious. When we started working with Mattias Norén, I made sure I conveyed that vision or message of how I was seeing the World at that point in time (Covid had just hit, I think) and he did an amazing job at depicting that idea i.e., the East and the West shores with one of them covered in light and the other one plunged in darkness.

You’ve mentioned that “Into the Abyss” is about the GFC of 2008. How did this crisis inspire the song in relation to the overarching theme of Ex Oriente Lux?

Zigor: This is, I think, the second song George and I wrote together. Being there when a song is taking shape gives you a very different perspective on the vibe and feel. The doomy parts at the beginning transmitted what I remember feeling back in ‘08 when the financial system started to melt down. It wasn’t quite as bad as the harrowing situation we experienced last year but it was pretty bad with a lot of folks recovering from it ONLY as Covid started to hit. The album in itself has quite a few dark yet real components to it from a lyrical perspective and musical passages. This is just one of them: the inability of folks to really control what’s happening in their lives since there’s a bigger thing at play, not controlled by them. The story of humanity, really, since ancient times- if you think about it.

Many occurrences of the last year could also be relevant to the album’s concept. Can you speak on the impact of these times within your respective countries and if they were also reflected in the album’s creation?

Zigor: When Covid hit the album was already finished and being mixed/mastered, I think. So anything that seems related to that is purely coincidental YET amazing how that synced almost perfectly with the times we’re living in.

George: Covid gave the album so much more meaning, really funny how things will just pan out and how the synchronicities come together.

Among my curiosities involving the lyrics is the messenger described on “Mettle.” Can you reveal the identity of this messenger and comment on the meanings within the song?

Zigor: Sure, there isn’t really 1 messenger per se. Allow me to explain: like I said I am not religious but can understand how religion or believing serves many purposes, one of them a meditation of sorts. I’ve seen folks of all religions across the World pray and while they use their deity as a conduit of feelings, gratefulness, wishes, desires, penance or confession, they are indirectly speaking to / hearing their inner voice. What I am saying is that psychologically they are connecting with their inner selves or voices via this mighty powerful deity. I am no expert, this is my view of it, nothing else.

Meditation does work in this very particular way and that is something I do practice every day of my life. You connect with your inner self. That voice in your head. That is, in my view, the messenger… as he/she/it carries “the message.”

“Mettle” speaks of this messenger i.e., your own subconscious telling you that “everything comes to pass.” That’s that. We humans have an incredible ability to get over anything and everything. We’re stronger than we think. 

I can tell you Gus had little to no idea what the lyrics I wrote were about when he went into the studio and yet in my opinion, he did an amazing job at creating, in vocal melodies and feeling, the convergence of those 2 things the song portrays: angst and hope.

Marty Friedman’s appearance on “Bereft” was one of the album’s highlights. How did this collaboration come about?

George: One of the discussions we’ve had was to bring someone high profile into the album; that’s how serious we were in trying to put something we can not only be proud of, but also something we can tick off the bucket list. I’ve brought this up to Zigor so many times that one of my idols was Marty and he too was a fan, and that’s where we just aligned. Of course, we also had to make sure the song we wanted him to be involved in would be the standout, which “Bereft” to me was it with many factors. So we sent him the demo and hoped for a response, and he replied to us saying that he was happy to collaborate. This must mean that we’ve definitely done something right with the song!

Songs like “Through the Fabric of Time” suggest an interest in metaphysical topics. Is this correct and are there any sources you draw from when writing lyrics?

Zigor: Yeah, I guess you could say all this stuff is metaphysical. My old man is a philosopher and while he would bore me to death for years at the dinner table with this stuff when I was younger, I guess everything rubs off in the end ha!

I remember the very first lesson in this as books (or my old man would) teach it: 

“Is the World the way I see it or do I see the World the way it is?” 

Cuckoo stuff, I know! That’s the premise of “Through the Fabric of Time,” seeing it through the lens or perspective of Time. David Eagleman’s book The Brain is one of many sources when I write lyrics about this topic. Great book if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Are there any promotional events in the making for Ex Oriente Lux that you can speak of, and is there a vision for how ADARRAK will develop over time?

George: The first album helped shape the sound we want to convey, but it also helped us understand and identify the type of style our listeners favour more to, and definitely this will help us look in a certain direction for our future releases. But like most musicians, the older and more experienced we become, the more we’ll itch to try new things. I’ll just leave it at that.

Thanks so much for your time and insights into ADARRAK and Ex Oriente Lux! Are there any ending thoughts you’d like to share?

Gustavo: Thank you for taking the time to ask such in-depth questions. It is really a huge motivation when someone goes beyond expectations and does a deep dive into the lyrics and the meaning of the songs. It has been a pleasure and I hope this is not the last time we interact. Take care and stay curious.

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