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In Words: Obsidian Tongue

- Brendan James Hayter - June 2012 - Lars Bjørn -

Obsidian Tongue
© Obsidian Tongue

Brendan James Hayter - June 15th 2012 (by email)

The new record from Obsidian Tongue is out now, what a name Obsidian Tongue. Brendan James Hayter gives us some info about their new record.

Now it's your first full-length album, and it was a special joy to listen to it, if we should get the right image of how your band is build, please tell us a little about how the beginning of Obsidian Tongue was. And why did you choose the name Obsidian Tongue?

Thank you, we are happy you enjoyed listening to our record.

The project basically first became an idea in late 2007, actually. I had the urge to try writing a couple songs in the black metal style, just to try and clear my head of negative emotions that were getting the best of me at the time. However one song led to another, and I became completely engulfed in this new world of music, lyrics and visuals. After about a year I had 10 or more songs done so I started making home recordings using a 4-track tape recorder, a small amp and a keyboard for the drum sounds. I initially was just going to record all the songs that way and it would be the album, very raw and ugly with synthetic drums. However the songs didn't reach their potential this way, they needed real drums and they needed to be played in concert. So, I used those initial recordings as demo material to put on MySpace to try and find a drummer. I eventually met Greg Murphy in early 2009 and I asked him about playing some black metal. He was into it, so we started jamming the songs in November 2009, recorded a demo of all newer songs in February 2010 and started playing shows in April of 2010.

As for the band name... Obsidian is a pitch-black volcanic glass used traditionally to absorb negative energies and promote clarity both mentally and spiritually. This is how I felt about extreme metal when I got into playing it. All of my negative thoughts and feelings were getting absorbed by these songs, and I suddenly had these striking moments of clarity that I did not have before. Therefore, when music is called a universal language of sorts, it makes perfect sense to me to call extreme metal The Obsidian Tongue.

How fast are you creating the songs, it's been quick since the demos you have done, when did you start writing songs for Subradiant Architecture?

I guess you could say it's been very quick. I had all the songs for the first record done by the summer of 2009, with the exception of Frozen Leaves. The songs for the 2nd and 3rd albums are mostly done, and there are a bunch of songs outside of those 2 records that I'm trying to figure out what to do with.

Your extreme metal style is very special, coming from serious preparation, what it is more precise that you want to tell with your songs?

The things that we would precisely like to tell with our songs, is for people to face their fears, find their potential, carve their own path to spiritual harmony. We have a generally positive approach, but not in an overbearing way. The music can be completely dismal and dark if you want it to be. However we're trying to illustrate a unity of sorts... A unity of the primal self and the intellectual self. The idea with melodic black metal to me is, you have these instruments creating a rather sophisticated melodic tapestry, with feral screaming vocals over it. That theme to me is like suggesting that if you are looking for sophistication and harmony in life, embracing your inner animal or primal self can lead you to it.

What inspires you to write music and lyrics?

I don't know. It's just always happening, there's always a riff to remember or a lyric to write down. It's all I really care about doing. Music just happens to some people... just like someone becomes an artist by constantly seeing images in their head that they want to paint out.

Can you tell us a little bit about why the band is only of two members?

It was initially just a means to an end, to be able to get out and play a show. Does this sound good enough with just the guitar and the drums? Yeah, sure, sounds good to me! Let's book a show. I didn't realize the artistic implications this band-format would have. The reason it was kept this way is I think it's a strong embodiment of the essences of isolation and solitude that are so vital to black metal. One melodic instrument, means one individual's musical interpretations of life experiences. It is one voice telling a story against a rigid rhythmic backdrop, alone. It makes perfect sense to me. I was also developing a playing style that combined the rhythm and lead roles, and since we made Obsidian Tongue officially a duo I have worked on that style a lot more.

Did you get inspiration from some other bands / artists in your decision to form your own band?

Yes, of course. Emperor, Immortal, Gorgoroth, Opeth, Enslaved, Darkthrone, Ildjarn, Bathory, Celtic Frost, mostly the old guys. Then there's new guys like Wolves In The Throne Room, Darkspace, Agalloch, and Alcest that really inspired me too.

Who did the artwork? And how is it tied to the album title?

Our artist operates under the moniker Namtaru. Her website is
The artwork ties into the title in a strange way. You would assume that with a title like Subradiant Architecture, the cover would immediately have strange dark buildings in a night-setting. Instead, what we have on the cover is a figure approaching a strange old well in the woods, and the wind from the trees comes swirling around and into the well, creating a vortex of wind that pulls the figure into the well. On the back cover, you see a figure falling down an endless hole. The idea is, what looks like a decrepit well on the surface is actually a portal to another world. The Subradiant Architecture is the place this portal is leading to. I found it beneficial to not have the actual Shadow World illustrated on this record, it leaves the imagination to do its work.

Which songs do you think represent Subradiant Architecture best? And why?

Into The Heart Of Night is probably the best representation of the album. The night that song was created was the night the project shifted gears into a serious creative endeavor. I think it includes all the elements that will be reoccurring in our future songs.

I guess you already got some feedback. Are you satisfied so far?

So far, yes. The feedback has been very positive. It is a good feeling to know the record is being embraced by the worldwide metal community.

How are your plans to make promotions of your music. On the internet or other ways?

I am always working on different avenues to take with promoting the band. Mostly we are working on getting advertisements on web sites, as well as even some zines.

You mention future recordings, have you started preparing how the next two years would look like for Obsidian Tongue?

Generally, the next two years will probably consist of touring and recording. It is June of 2012 right now, and hopefully both Volume II and Volume III will be released by June of 2014.

Anything you want to add to the interview?

Not much, other than just a friendly reminder that if anyone wishes to purchase a copy of our record, it is for sale at

Thank you for inviting me to do this interview. Cheers!

Good idea to give this band a try, two fellows who are serious about the black metal they play. Thanks to Brendan for sharing his views to us.

Lars Bjørn


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