Partaking in the Dreaded Sacrament – An Interview with KRVNA

            A nightside intoxication persists from the bloody offerings consumed through For Thine is the Kingdom of the Flesh, with their potency carrying the immortal reign of KRVNA to greater levels of triumph. After my review indulged in this feast for the blackened senses, Australia’s decadent crypts were unsealed once more for a conversation with the master orchestrator of these rites, Krvna Vatra Smrt, who further illuminates their surrounding contexts from the shadows within. Past, present, and possible future eras of this entity are all accounted for, along with other areas of history and legend ravaged by the undead, and this communion ultimately defies death by embracing its cold eternity.

Greetings and many thanks for taking time for this interview! For Thine is the Kingdom of the Flesh is a formidable return that delves further into the vampire’s dark mystique. Could you recount some of the most memorable points that occurred as it reached completion over the past year?

Much of last year was spent recalibrating and adjusting to a collective new normal, on both personal and professional levels. I’d imagine this’d have been the case for many of us, after having lived the last couple of years leading up to this one in disarray. Most of the music for this release had been written, recorded, and loosely arranged in late ’21, with vocals and further refinements including mixing and mastering being completed in mid ’22.

Were there any significant changes in your writing process here compared to the previous efforts?

Not in any obvious way, no. Most of the riffs had been written over the course of the last decade and I’d slowly arrange them into song form, riff by riff. Just about all of the songs you hear on ‘For Thine’ were originally about twice the length – so there was a point where I’d quite actively and aggressively culled riffs, cut down on repetitions… ‘trimmed some fat’, so to speak. This wasn’t the case with the songs on Sempinfernus, however. Various pieces of new equipment were also used on the new album, signaling the change in tone and quality, too!

Song titles that suggest two parts are noted on both this new release and Sempinfernus. Are there any deeper links, thematic or otherwise, between these albums?

The vampiric undercurrent remains the same – ‘For Thine’ however felt a little more ‘mature’ in composition & lyrical content, to me. It spreads its wings a little and touches on concepts of immortality, Philosophy/existential dread and also juxtaposes certain ritualistic behaviors (found) in modern day religions within vampirism and blood veneration. So whilst there was no obvious attempt at marrying the two releases, in tone and in concept, it was probably just a case of it being unavoidable considering the creative pool I was drawing from was one in the same.

I am of course interested in your first-hand experience with the folklore involving vampires. Were any of the familiar defenses against them believed to be effective by the witch healers of your family’s homeland?

Yes, my mother had relayed some information regarding certain amulets and herbs that were left under her pillow while she was (seemingly) ‘under attack’, as a child… further details of which, are lost to the ages. She can’t recall specifics as she was a child, and these beliefs were by and large abandoned by the entire populace as the years forged on. The Istro-Romanians seem to be both a linguistic and cultural bridge between the romance/Latin world & the Slavonic ones & It’s interesting to hear Slavonic deities’ names pop up from time to time in her recollections of her childhood & of the stories & superstitions passed down to her from our ancestors.

When we last spoke, you mentioned the similarities between vampirism and certain religious practices, and these are highlighted effectively on “Gethsemane Ablaze.” How would you describe the significance of these connections to those who are religious?

Modern Day religions are nothing but an accumulation of appropriated beliefs & rituals which seem to be contextualized to suit the moral and cultural ‘temperature’ of their respective time. Concepts like transubstantiation ~ the idea that one must consume (in literal terms) the blood and flesh of Christ to obtain immortality mirrors so well with concepts like vampirism; & this notion of sacrifice and consumption of blood can be found in countless religious systems preceding our current, dominant ones…

How deep have you found the vampire thread to run within those biblical and religious contexts? Does it relate to any other unlikely sources that may be explored in the future?

I would have long drawn-out conversations with my father while he was alive, we’d philosophize, argue and consider each other’s points of view regarding things like religion & its importance on the likes of humanity. When I’d point out the countless misappropriations, in defense of existing systems, he’d put it down to a kind of spiritual ‘evolution’. His argument was simple, ‘Take a look at what we have been able to do with dog breeds, with horses… these animals aren’t like what they were, even just a few hundred years ago’… likening Christianity’s misappropriations to that of a deliberate and calculated evolution. At the time I recall thinking this was just preposterous justification – ‘what’d our pagan ancestors think of us??’ & ‘we’ve turned our backs on what our ancestors used to believe!’ – but when you meditate on this idea for a while – you may realize that all of these old beliefs, the old rituals, are still with us (for those who actively practice (I don’t, obviously)) – even in their weekly communion, no less. Forgive the similes, but I’m sure you get my point.

As for what is to be explored in the future – I’m at an interesting point where I’ll be working up from a clean slate, so to speak. So – anything’s possible!

Multiple striking scenes are depicted within the accompanying artwork of For Thine is the Kingdom of the Flesh. What are your thoughts on these designs and how they complement its music?

Firstly, it would be remiss of me not to mention the artist – Greallach. The man, put simply, is a genius. We’d discussed numerous concepts in the lead up to the completion of the album, but the idea of the ‘last supper’ where Christ is the literal sacrifice/meal was a must, considering everything we’ve spoken about here, previously. Additionally, the saint like drawings ‘The Hounds of God’, ‘Leviathan’, ‘The Stigmata’ & the ‘Vampire Bat’ add not only an aesthetic, but philosophical depth to the release that in no uncertain terms are on point, striking & deadly!

I was pleased to see Long Forgotten Relic taking a proper physical form. What was it like to revisit the original recording of “Gethsemane Ablaze” for this release? Could you also offer any insights on the extra tracks included and how they enhance the main parts?

Both songs on the Demo deserved to reach a greater audience. At the time of initial release, the cassettes (limited to 50) sold out within days. Whilst the recording was available digitally, I know how important physical/tangible releases are and I’d vowed one day, should the opportunity arise, I’d want to take a look at re-releasing it. Zazen Sounds kindly provided me with the opportunity, and I’d written and recorded two new songs ‘Tithonus I & II’ to add to the release. The two tracks were recorded at a similar time to ‘For Thine’, but the lyrics themselves are taken from the Lord Tennyson Poem ‘Tithonus’. This poem is steeped in existentialism and serves as a caution for those seeking immortality… I was drawn to it initially from its use in the movie, ‘The Shadow Of The Vampire’.

 ‘The woods decay, the woods decay and fall, the vapours weep their burthen to the ground’ – If you’re familiar with the movie you’ll understand the context under which this is used; Nosferatu himself seeing immortality as a curse!

The Wallachian aura returns and continues to seize intrigue on “The Flaming Hordes of Basarab,” What is your perspective on Basarab’s legacy compared to Vlad Tepes or other rulers from the region?

Well, it all ties into the creation of the modern state; This family was instrumental in the genesis, rule, and protection of what came to be known as Romania, with Tepes being one of the many crucial descendants. The Balkans and the Carpathians are regions rich in history and culture – and looking back, no matter from which perspective always tends to bring to mind the Bram Stoker line, ‘We are in Transylvania, And Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things.’

About a year ago, For Thine is the Kingdom of the Flesh was already nearing completion. Is there another work in the making as we speak now, or are you able to share any other future plans at this time?

There are two recordings in the making – both in embryonic stages, however. So there is a long way to go before anything is ready for release. I’m keeping an open mind about how things might pan out – but the formula is going to remain the same; 90’s-tinged black metal. I’d spent my formative years listening to this genre and only truly know and understand it a certain way, and I hope this manifests itself in an honest way, in the music I release.

You’ve also recently taken up guitar duties for PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS. Will you be involved in any of the songwriting for their next release?

I’ve been involved with PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS on and off for years, now. It was a natural step for me to join ranks & play guitar. Yes, I’ll be contributing a little, musically, but my main roles within PS will always be recording, mixing & production.

I look forward to exploring the ruinous soundscapes still hidden among the shadows, and thank you once again for your time and insights! Are there any final thoughts you would like to share in closing?

Firstly, a big thank you to The Misanthreport for the opportunity & interview… your kind words do not go unnoticed, and secondly, thank you to everyone who has thus far managed to stumble across and enjoy the music I write. It is quite humbling!

Copies of For Thine Is The Kingdom Of The Flesh available via Third Eye Temple, Ancient Dead, & KRVNA Bandcamp.

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