Through the Darkened Past – An Interview with KRVNA

            A new malevolent being has risen from the shadows of time, and our modern masses are subject to its insatiable thirst as KRVNA unleashes the wrath of Sempinfernus. After exploring the ancient ruins of this magnificent work in a review, I had the honor of speaking with the master behind its creation, Krvna Vatra Smrt, to learn more about his influences guiding the dark forces within. Here we tread deeper into the catacombs to unearth various aspects of history and folklore surrounding their immortal likeness, and a distant past becomes linked with the present while glimpsing into an imminent future.

Greetings and congrats on the release of Sempinfernus! I’m curious about the folklore passed down by some of your relatives. Are you willing to share any details from these stories that were particularly impactful? What other influences led to your conception of Vampyric Black Metal?

Thank you Misanthreport! My background stems from the Balkans – I am part Slavic and part Romanian; my mother’s family actually belongs to a small group of peoples called ‘Istro-romanians,’ whose language is UNESCO listed as one of Europe’s most endangered languages. Both Cultures share an abundance in folklore and mythology, interestingly.

Since we were young my mother would frequently tell us stories involving her and her family’s experiences with witchcraft (she had an uncle who was apparently led by witches through a snow storm to his untimely death – found frozen in a lake) – and she herself has a story regarding an illness she was seemingly afflicted with as a child, where local ‘healers’ (witches) had speculated she was being visited nightly by ‘Morana’ (this is the name of the Slavic deity of Winter & death, of no co-incidence, I’m sure) – and was being drained of blood & of her ‘essence.’

I wanted to shed some light on the darker aspects of Balkan culture – as children we would marvel at the remarkable, forgotten worlds that have seemingly been left behind us. Times change; improvements in education, technology, health & living standards…. all systematically played part in the diminishment of such superstitions.

Sempinfernus was in part inspired by some of these stories & aspects.

Vampirism has always been of great interest to me – specifically the notion of the consumption of blood and eternal life… the means and goals oddly mirrored in mainstream religions, similar premises – with varied results. Regarding SEMPINFERNUS and KRVNA’s output – I guess you can take the man out of the Balkans, but never the Balkans out of the man.

You also play drums for the band DEARTHE but have assumed all the instrumental duties for KRVNA. What led to the decision of being solo for KRVNA, and do you have a primary or preferred instrument?

I had amassed a library of riffs that took approximately a decade to compile & I was more than happy to let them sit in perpetuity, but 2020 dealt some blows which left me a little ‘black and blue.’ The death of my father and an accident which left me with a broken shoulder set me along a path of recovery, physically and mentally – ‘SEMPINFERNUS’ was my ‘Fuck You’ back at the universe, and my way of regaining control of faculties.

I am most comfortable with the guitar – but am enjoying vocals more and more as time passes.

Do you have an interest in forming a live lineup to play shows, or is KRVNA intended as a studio project?

There have been a few requests for KRVNA to play some live shows – but with all the lockdowns we’ve been forced to live through over the past 2 years, the idea of forming a functional line up was very much left in the hypothetical realm. In future – sure, I’d be interested in organizing a line up and taking KRVNA to the stage.

A fascination with vampires is actually what led me to black metal, beginning with the early CRADLE OF FILTH albums. Have you had any similar experiences with bands in the past, or are there others you feel genuinely express the vampire ethos?

The best & most prolific example of true vampiric Black Metal would be that of close friend – Azgorh, of Drowning The Light fame. This band typifies what Vampiric Black Metal should be – it is the gold standard.

Various artistic outlets have formed different portrayals of the vampire, from a hideous zombie-like creature to a charismatic and powerful aristocrat. How do you envision the vampire? Is there a favorite story or film with a master vampire you would consider archetypal?

The best portrayal of the vampire in film must be Willem Dafoe’s ‘Orlock’ in ‘Shadow Of The Vampire.’ This movie adds an element of realism to the original premise & begs one to truly contemplate life eternal, as dreadful as that may be.

Besides this – Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is obviously brilliant.

You’ve commented on the lifeless and sterile nature of our current times as many folkloric qualities fade into the past. What are your thoughts on the vampire subculture of today, with its different religious or occult sects and other communities? Also, do you have any views on the more modern forms of psychic or astral vampirism practiced by some?

Indeed, having grown up in the first world, in the west & hearing the stories and experiences of old, from another time, another place – you are left comparing the two experiences and yes, I am often left with a feeling of loss and regret & some kind of nostalgia, albeit via proxy. You hear the echoes of the past and compare them to today’s literal, material competitive world we are subject to and without doubt – there is no comparison.

I tend to view modern day incarnations & interpretations of many historical institutions/movements with varying degrees of skepticism. With the passage of time you invariably end up with numerous stressors that pull at the fabric of information; wanton destruction, obfuscation, appropriation, zeitgeist, cognitive dissonance… it leaves us with only an aesthetic or skin deep ‘understanding’ – or more to the point – ‘misunderstanding.’ To me, the passage of information from generation to generation is akin to copying VHS or cassette tapes over, and over and over again… said information becomes less perfect, and more susceptible to ‘noise’ with each copy. 

Having said all of this – there are numerous occult aspects and practices that are of interest as I am inclined to certain ways and have certain pre-dispositions & notions on form & matter.

What are some of your views on death? Do you have thoughts on what has been referred to as the “second,” or “astral” death, and the aims to avoid it?

I think the optimist(?) in me, might at certain points, pine for some form of permanence. The pessimist… the realist, is more than happy to meet with inevitable nothingness. Death has… turned from abstract phenomena or hypothetical musing to abject experience – to it literally destroying worlds and hope.

Do I want to live forever… or avoid death? I don’t think I do. Until my time comes, I’ll just sit and ponder, a little while.

Tragedy is sometimes tied to the vampire’s immortality, and it can be perceived as more like a curse than a powerful attribute. What do you feel are the benefits and drawbacks of this type of eternal life?

I am coming to terms with the links between existence and exhaustion – and I genuinely believe there is a diminishing marginal rate of utility associated with said ‘experience,’ haha.

To answer your question however – I think a vampire’s best attributes are related to its compulsions regarding the consumption of blood and its subsequent capacity for perennial mass murder. It is, in a state of permanence, a destroyer of worlds. This is awe inspiring, don’t you think?

Vlad Țepeș is regarded differently across the countries involved in his history, with some considering him a ruthless tyrant and others a hero. What is your perspective on this Wallachian voivode? Besides contributing to the vampire legend, are there other parts of his legacy you would consider significant?

From my understanding, my ancestors left Transylvania to relocate to the Istrian Peninsula after Tepes’ rule, some 600 years ago – to avoid ramifications of the incoming Ottoman incursion. Your question is quite a ‘hot button’ for many Balkanites – most would consider him a hero & saviour of ‘Europe.’ I’m sure the answers may vary dependent on who you’re asking, of course. He is the archetypal Nietzschean ‘monster’ & we have seen this archetype play out over and over throughout history – seemingly under some kind of ‘universal law.’ However, Tepes – is par excellence.

The translation of Dracul to “dragon,” and also “devil,” naturally connects the vampire to the left-hand path. How would you compare vampirism to other left-hand doctrines, and does it possess any qualities you feel makes it more appealing?

Most definitely there are principles & objectives within both spheres that correlate & can co-exist in union, but I also tend to assume that, in truth, there are mutually exclusive aspects which separate & individualize ritual, tradition and outcome between these manifestations & dogmas.

I think in the truest sense the vampiric experience is that of no enlightenment, no soul, no divination… to me it is the antithesis or antidote to metaphysicality – its existence is devoid of all of these things – and all that is left is a reliance in perpetuity of blood for sustenance in an otherwise transient & physical world, and a countenance & propensity for ritual murder in order to achieve said permanence.

Afterall, it is stated & translated in Thompson’s ‘The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia’ that ‘In heaven they are unknown, On Earth they are not understood. They neither stand nor sit, Nor eat or drink.’

The songwriting on Long Forgotten Relic was more focused on atmosphere while Sempinfernus takes an aggressive approach. How might your sound evolve in the future?

Absolutely spot on with your summation of both releases. This was deliberate – and KRVNA is an evolving beast. Album number 2 is almost complete and it is more aggressive than ‘Sempinfernus’… with time all things entropy & descend into chaos.

Thanks so much for your time and insights. Do you wish to share any final thoughts in closing?

Thank you Misanthreport for taking time to interview and review KRVNA…and for everyone who manages to stumble across ‘Sempinfernus’ – I hope you find some magic amongst the ruins.

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