Human Serpent is a black metal band from Lamia, Central Greece, formed in late 2012 as a duo consisting of X - as vocalist, guitarist, bassist and lyricist, and I - as drummer.
With a very original sound (true to the old school black metal roots but also bringing new and original elements) representing the expression of the band’s ideological status, Human Serpent have successfully differentiated themselves from the mass of new black metal acts. Ever since the band’s debut (with the demo "The Eternal Loyalty to Misanthropy", in 2013) and continuing with the full length albums ("The Gradual Immersion In Nihilism", from 2014, "Inhumane Minimalism", from 2015 and "For I, The Misanthropist", in 2018), the splits with several Greek black metal bands (such as Funeral Storm, Thaer Os Valael, Varg Order, Opus Magorum, Silent Dominion, Human Parasites, Black Winter ) and the collaboration with Greek black metal band Isolert, Human Serpent have received only extremely positive feedback both from fans and music critics, and rightfully so, as they are one of the best and most original new bands emerging from the black metal scene.
According to Human Serpent, the band’s position is mainly an ideological one, and not a musical one. Opposing to any form of organised religion, to the excessive self-admiration and materialism of today’s society and making great sacrifices to be able to continue staying true to themselves and expressing their ideology freely, the band has managed to pass all obstacles and sometimes hostile attitude of many fellow countrymen and emerge in its true power, free to speak their mind, crushing everything in their way, an intricate, deep, wise beyond its years and constantly evolving, both spiritually and musically, Human Serpent.
I feel honored that this incredible band has accepted to be interviewed by me for Pest Webzine. An older interview, from July 2015, published in our magazine, can be found here: http://pestwebzine.com/index/human_serpent/0-1185.
Through the following questions, I tried to shed a light on this magnificent, huge and maybe buried too deep in the underground Human Serpent.
I have chosen not to pose artificially elaborated and sophisticated questions, or worse, dig into their personal space, beyond the message they are trying to convey through their music. I hope this interview manages to throw a light on the magnificent soul and ideology of the wonderful gem of the underground which is Human Serpent.
I have thought that the fact that you don’t make your name public and don’t show your face (just like some other black metal bands, such as Batushka and Uada do) means that you don’t need the admiration of a large public. Just you, the music with its message and the ones who listen to you and feel the same way as you do, only they don’t have your courage and, especially, your talent. Regarding the album covers, I think that the faces are blurred/unclear as a message that humanity is inherently rotten, apathetic, indifferent and soulless, and the blurred faces represent the people’s souls. But I think that my understanding could be very rudimentary or maybe completely wrong. So can you please tell us why don’t you reveal your faces and your names and why are the faces on the covers blurred?
Our lives, our existence and by extension our faces are completely without meaning. The only thing that has a meaning is our actions. It is our actions that hold some kind of importance, it is our actions that each and every one of us is being held accountable for. Everything else is just an illusion, it is something to entertain our eyes. This is the reason that we choose not to reveal our faces and our names. We are our music, not a thing more and not a thing less. The blurred faces in our cover arts highlight the vanity and the unpalatability of our empty human existence.
I know that in the past you have collaborated with other bands and that, many times, the experience wasn’t very pleasant for you. In the interviews, you both are a single voice, sharing the same ideology, very close to each other and very good friends. Do you still have the same opinion about remaining a duo or are you open to adding more permanent members to the band?
There are no thoughts of adding any new members, it will be a great disruption in the process and character that we have created. This, of course, is not the issue regarding the live session musicians.
Evil is everywhere. It’s relatively easy to discover it within ourselves: hypocrisy, hate, meanness, greed, envy, deceit, lie, selfishness, superficiality, dishonesty. What is, in your opinion, the most evil thing that society does to the young generation?
The answer here can only be completely subjective and biased. We feel that the most evil thing was, is and will always be the nature of human existence. We are doomed to create havoc, pain, suffering and death to all things and beings around us. Everything we do, we do it solely for ourselves. We do it so that we can feel better, feel stronger, feel special and fill our ego and create meaning for our empty lives. Nothing ever seems to be remotely satisfactory to our lives. We exploit, manipulate, destroy, eradicate everything and everyone around us in order to feel better, feel special. On the other hand, we help, create and do acts of kindness for exactly the same reasons, so that we can feel better and special. Everything that we do we do it so that we can feel better, yet all we ever do is temporarily soothe the hunger that the misery of our very existence has burdened us from the moment we were created. A hunger that grows exponentially with every passing second!
When I listen to a new band/album, I instantly know whether I like it or not, even before being able to find a reason for it in my mind.
You said that when you recorded "For I, the Misanthropist", you didn’t know at first why you had chosen that particular cover art, color, riff, lyric..yet you went through with all, you insisted, persisted and after many great (and worthwhile) efforts, when you finally held the album in your hands, you understood immediately why you made every single effort. I think that if a person has talent and something to say, somehow, despite all adversities and hardship, that talent manages to find its way to surface and the message will come out.
My question is.. do you think that "black metal" is an inherent, internal personality trait which (depending on the circumstances and environment) eventually expresses itself during the lifetime of an individual, or is it something learnt and acquired?
We would say that Black Metal is a defense mechanism that some people “create” so that they can survive some certain aspects of life. A special room in which an individual can escape reality and master some ways to fight it, an island where, although stranded, one can be completely free. It is a way to combat the harsh reality that leaves huge marks and scars on us that can never be healed. Essentially, it is something that can be developed, a way to defend against and attack the things that threaten what we stand for.
Unfortunately, I see all around me that, when people start having responsibilities and a lot of work, many quit going to concerts or listening to metal. Why do you think that somebody who used to be a true black metal fan can quit this music?
Taste is something that can change in the blink of an eye. Yet, we feel that Metal is a more than taste, it is more than a way of life, it is a school of thought, a mindset. Something that will always stay with us and be our best companion through every little aspect of our lives in a daily basis. The only answer we can truly give to your answer is that the people that you are mentioning simply though or understood Metal as a matter of taste, they saw it as simple notes in a piece of paper, as mere symbols and never felt the soul in it.
And now, a few questions related to your ideals and aspirations. I truly agree that your life beyond the band’s musical and ideological statements is nobody’s business. So please answer any of the following questions, to the extent you think they are connected to your music and ideology. What is it that you want to achieve on a spiritual level?
What is your main purpose in this life?
Finding a meaning in it.
Is there a particular truth you would like to find out?
Why is life wasted in a bunch of organisms that have nothing pure or good to offer and contribute.\
Do you see humanity as a form of energy which can be modified and do you try to change part of this energy through your music?
We do not try to modify or change any part of that energy, we just try to point out the decay and stench of its form.
Do you think that humanity can be saved or is human nature inherently bad?
As you can see from our previous answer, it clear that we strongly believe that human nature is inherently bad.
Do you think that the world was better, more pure in the past, when humanity had different values and ideals than today?
It is easy to believe that the world was purer and better in the past but we are sure that it bore no difference with the one today.
Are you afraid that you will, somehow, lose yourselves one day?
It is a fear that we feel every day, this is why we always try to stay true to ourselves.
Do you constantly battle with yourselves and the world for your own spiritual freedom?
Every single day!
Do you ever feel trapped in this world and in this time?
More importantly than that, we feel trapped in the vanity of human life.
What is, in your opinion, the weakest aspect of humanity?
Its greed and selfishness.
Is there a fictional character that you wish existed in real life?
Is there a particular song/album of your discography that you feel more attached to?
Both of us have a special bond with every song that we create, each one of us for our own reasons. Every song that we create is a very important part of us, of our soul. At this moment in time, the album that has the bigger impact on us as a whole is “For I, The Misanthropist”.
In some of your interviews, you said that, despite the general hateful attitude of your fellow countrymen, there were some exceptions, some friends who have helped you. Would you like to mention them here or would you prefer to keep them in your soul and maybe, in this way, respect their, and your, privacy?
This is something that holds great value for us! These people are really very important to us and this is something that will never be forgotten. We think that it would be best to respect both our privacies and not mention any names. We would like, however, to take this opportunity to once again thank them for everything they have done for Human Serpent and for us individually. We owe them a lot!
What do you think is the main reason that Greece, this outstanding (both as culture and landscape) country has such a strong metal scene and what personality trait of your people has contributed to the birth of the Hellenic black metal sound? Do most musicians in this scene know each other? Is this scene as united as I have read it used to be? What is your opinion on the actual Hellenic black metal scene and what do you think about its future?
There isn’t an input we can provide that will shed enough light in the matter or will eventually be able to fully answer your question.
What would you wish in the future for Human Serpent and what are your future projects and plans? Do you already think of a future album?
We plan to create music. Always in our minds are the thoughts of creating music, expressing ourselves through music. There are thoughts on several new releases and one of them is a full-length one. If any particular decisions are made they will be instantly made known by us.
And now, a few questions from some of my friends on the Black Metal Amino, many of whom know and appreciate your music very much. (Questions 2 from Captain and 1 from Azag Galla are basically identical and need one answer, but I decided to present them to you in their original form that they were transmitted to me.)
Captain (Louisiana, USA):
Please tell us a few Modern Black Metal bands that are highly respected by you.
There are a lot of bands that we share a mutual respect with. Too many to try and list them here, actually. We would like to say that each and every band that stays true to themselves and create music to ease and soothe the aches of their soul, that respect music and what they stand for will forever have our utmost respect. Music is a piece of ourselves, a piece of our world and that is why we sacrifice so much for that, anyone who perceives music in a similar way will always be respected by us.
Also, please fill us in on which Black Metal bands have inspired you to write your style of music.
We are influenced by Metal as a whole, we listen to Metal and we serve Black Metal. We are big fans of the Norwegian, the Finnish, the Swedish and The French scenes. We want to keep an open mind in music and integrate everything that we feel that is genuine and true to the meaning that aims to pass on to their audience.
What bands have inspired you along the way to help mold your sound to its current state?
Each Human Serpent member has his own influences and their own "favorite" bands that make the band sound and be what it is today. We take influence from the entire spectrum of Metal, but also from Punk, Crust and Grind.
What mindset or mood do you need to get into when you write and record your music?
There isn’t a particular mindset or mood that is needed to be achieved in order to write or record our music. Everything that is needed is the feelings that we need and crave to express and the time to get together and start the process. It is something that just comes natural, there isn’t any type of ritualistic things that must or mustn’t be done before we start.
JOY (Sao Paolo, Brazil):
In such a rich and diverse black metal scene, how has Human Serpent managed to stand out and be such an unique and original band?
Picture us 12 years ago when we started playing music together and then picture us now! You could say that a lot of things have changed, that we are completely different people now from what we were back then. Partially you would be right, we have come a long way but the core and the most important thing stays the same throughout these years, we just want to play music, we want to create, we want to express ourselves and let those who chose to listen know our point of view in most of the aspects of our daily lives. Of things that are essential and important to us. So, there isn’t something special that we did in order to try and stand out or anything like that, we did and we continue to do exactly what we need to do, be ourselves. Be true to ourselves and not be afraid to speak our mind, we don’t really care if we offend some schools of thinking, we do not try to fit in the society or “Metal society” norms. We just want to be ourselves!
Thank you very much for your time and kind responses! I wish you all the best in your future plans and I hold the utmost respect for you!
Interview by Elena Silvia Popescu