The word Dakhma stands for Tower of Silence… how can a tower of silence play such “scary” music?
In Zoroastrian tradition (although such structures are currently banned in relevant Islamic countries), the tower of silence is a structure for excarnation, where the dead are exposed to be fed to carrion birds. For Zoroastrians, dead flesh is considered impure and may not come in contact with the holy earth, as the earth would be contaminated as a result and require several rites of purification. As such, burials (common to Abrahamic religions) may not be performed. Dakhma is an audial expression of respect and worship of the dead and affiliated rituals found in Zoroastrian tradition. Therefore, the name is more a result of the concepts explored rather than a conscious choice.
I cannot speak about any subjective experiences the music may cause on the listener.
Care to let us know a bit more about the whole concept behind Dakhma’s formation in 2014?
I had long planned to explore the underlying concept of Dakhma through a musical project and the time was right for me to make first recordings at the end of 2014.
The band is affiliated with the Helvetic Underground Committee. What is that after all?
The Helvetic Underground Committee is a loosely affiliated coven of like-minded individuals involved in musically diverse projects, some of which share members. There is no "numerus clausus" per se and further projects will arise from its midst in the near future… Generally, and stated reductively, the Helvetic Underground Committee's declared goal is to propagate Helvetic Audial Terror and to contaminate as well as corrupt the minds of listeners.
Your work “Passageways to Daena (The Concomitant Blessings of Putrescing Impurity)” was re-released via Godz ov War Productions on the 31st May 2016. Considering the album had only been released last year, why the re-release just one year later?
The initial release was financed and produced by myself and consequently, only very few physical copies were made. As the collaboration with Godz ov War Productions to release "Astiwihad-Zohr" on cassette worked very well, we decided to collaborate once again and make a limited re-release of the debut album, with detailed new artwork more accurately reflecting the release's underlying concepts. Further, this allowed the release to see a wider distribution. I am usually skeptical of re-releases occurring in such a short time after the initial release, however, for the above stated reasons I found a re-release to be warranted in this case.
The re-release includes 2 bonus tracks "Call from the Grave" (Bathory Cover) and the funerary dirge "Rite of Daebaaman (The Spiritual Invocation of Akem Manah)". How important was/is Bathory for you as a band/musician?
Bathory was one of the first metal bands I experienced and remains a personal favorite to this day. The breadth and diversity of Quorthon's work is admirable in my opinion, even if I may personally find some of his releases to be uninspired (e.g. Octagon… what was that all about?!).
Grandiose works such as "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" are staples of the genre and metal in general, and I wanted to show my personal appreciation for the achievements of Bathory by recording and releasing a cover of one of their songs.
Dakhma’s music is so raw and reminds me of the black metal jewels released in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Do you think Black Metal needs to go back to its roots?
In my opinion, there are plenty of bands and projects that adhere to the values, aesthetic and musical direction of the genre's initiators, as such, I do not feel a general "back to the roots" movement is necessary. I would argue such movement is and always has been well underway. Further, aside from negligible, feeble and crucially ephemeral imitators as well as inferior imposters using the label of "black metal" or "extreme metal" for the exclusive purpose of profit and trying to belong to some "scene" and creating unnecessary societal hype through the internet or social media platforms, I think the genre is in a strong position going forward. I continue to be thoroughly impressed and fascinated by material coming from all over the world. There may be an overabundance of useless material, however it is easy to sort through if you know where to look and what you're looking for.
The band explores Zoroastrian rituals and afterlife in the lyrical themes. Why these in particular? What attracts you to them?
I believe certain (albeit somewhat archaic) traditions and religious concepts deserve to be more fully explored and conceptualized through a musical project that espouses their worship, by sonically invoking what are my interpretations of their affiliated sounds. I am particularly attracted to the Zoroastrian concepts of death and the afterlife, which have had a crucial influence on the more recent Abrahamic religions.
The cover of your demo "Astiwihad-Zohr" is in red and black and the cover of “Passageways to Daena (The Concomitant Blessings of Putrescing Impurity)” is also in red and black. Why these colours? Is it because they are “linked” to evil, hell and all the devilish themes?
The colors are less important than what is actually depicted. I would urge listeners to look beyond the covers to fully grasp the underlying concepts, if they so choose. I felt the choice of colors was appropriate for the music contained therein, there is no urge to be "linked" to any specific themes through the color choice. As such, future releases will likely be in different colors.
The Swiss metal scene is not as prolific as the nordic ones. Are there any bands worth mentioning?
Switzerland has a surprisingly diverse and prolific metal scene, considering the size of the country. Aside from classic and influential bands such as Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Coroner, I would prefer not to "name-drop" anything in particular here. Interested listeners can find music they will enjoy coming from Switzerland easily enough. We do, after all, have the internet nowadays.
Has Dakhma played live yet?
Dakhma has not yet played live. However, this is likely to occur in the future.
2015 was a busy year for the band. What’s coming up next?
I actually finished the compositions for the upcoming full-length in the late spring of 2016, the title of which I would prefer not to share yet at this stage. Commitments in other musical projects for recording and live performances as well as work have prohibited me from satisfactorily progressing in the definitive recordings, however, we have rehearsed most of the songs and I hope to complete the recordings for Dakhma this winter.
Name the bands that had a huge impact/influence on you as a person/musician.
This is rather difficult, as I listen to and am influenced by such a broad range of artists and musical styles. If I were to restrict myself to name five, I would say Darkthrone, Katharsis, Blasphemy, Fields of the Nephilim and Willie Nelson.
What’s on your playlist these days?
Again, a vast array of artists and styles. To name five in regular rotation and in no particular order, which are more likely to be relevant to your readership:
Temple Nightside - The Hecatomb
Vassafor/Temple Nightside - Call of the Maelstrom
Eucharist - Endarkenment
Beastmilk - Climax
Truppensturm - Salute to the Iron Emperors
Can one say that Dakhma is a band that will soon reach the cult status? Would you like that?
I cannot speak to that, and I do not care about any "status" or being considered "cult" (the word itself is problematic). The music of Dakhma speaks for itself and should be taken as such without adhering to any labelling or false opinions of others.
Is there a message you’d like to leave to Pest’s readers?
Thank you for your detailed questions and the interest shown as well as your support.
Interview by Sonia Fonseca