Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus began in 2012 when I (Mika Mage) discovered a close friend of mine (Manuel Rodriguez) had written some excellent atmospheric riffs. Manuel had little interest in recording anything since he had professional obligations (he's now a video game programmer in Denver), but he allowed me to incorporate his riffs with my own material. So I recorded all the guitar parts to create a shrewd demo and it eventually found its way to M.W.S. (Serpent ov Old, Shadows in the Crypt, ex-Wykked Witch, ex-Evil Divine), who was eager to join up and invited me to his Thee Illuminated studio to finish the album. From this our self-titled promo 'Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus' and eventually the full-length 'Synkkä Tuuli' were born, with me on guitar and M.W.S. handling keys, bass, and vocals. Mike Juliano's Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (HPGD) signed us and released our promo and 'Synkkä Tuuli', after which Manuel and M.W.S. both left (Manuel only ever intended to contribute to one album, and M.W.S. to focus on Serpent ov Old).. NB now stands essentially a one-man band in which I compose all the material and bring in session talent where needed. For instance, the follow-up EP 'Väinämöinen' features me on guitar with M.W.S. playing session bass, Lawrence Wallace (Lawrence's Creation, Serpent ov Old, Shadows in the Crypt) on keys, and James Dorton (Black Crown Initiate, Nightfire, Antikythera) contributing vocals. For the upcoming album I handle all instrumentation with Lawrence providing some additional keys and James Dorton signed on again to sing (although with Black Crown Initiate touring with 1349 and Marduk this spring, it's a little up in the air when that will get complete).
How would you describe your style? Which bands influenced your music?
The idea for NB is to create music which utilizes the rawness of the genre to enhance the frigid and depressive nature of the songs, while preserving a melodic feel throughout. When I wrote for and recorded 'Synkkä Tuuli', my goal was to create a 30 minute journey through a frozen Nordic landscape, thus the album begins with footsteps through snow and ends with an acoustic dirge suggesting the demise of the protagonist. The follow-up EP and upcoming album is also Nordic themed in being based on the Finnish national epic the "Kalevala" (since I'm a dual citizen of Finland and the United States, it's a subject of significance to me). When it comes to taste in music, Manuel and I differ pretty significantly. While we both listen to Paysage D'Hiver, Darkspace, Triste, Velvet Cacoon and other staples of our genre type, Manuel will tell you he was mainly influenced by Graveland, Hate Forest, and Horna while writing his riffs. Since I largely wrote my riffs to complement his, people seem to hear those bands as our "influences". Personally, I stick to the more progressive end of things, bands like Rotting Christ, Naglfar, Hakuja, Old Man's Child, and Bal-Sagoth (when feeling power metal-y..), since my creative process is more oriented towards that.. With Manuel departing after the first LP it left me the lone remaining creative force, and I think it shows in the direction of the EP (which some people have described as symphonic) and definitely will show on the upcoming LP.
Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?
When Manuel and I first got together we weren't under any illusion that somehow we would extract a living from a raw atmospheric black metal band grounded on the east coast of the United States (Philadelphia, to be exact): Our goal was simply to make metal the global community could listen to and appreciate. That being said, a fan buys our stuff because they want to support NB and ensure more songs are spawned (and our labels don't get too pissed at us..).. Infernal Kommando Records in France picked us up for distribution on the underground cassette market and produced limit-150 editions of the LP and EP, both of which have been selling well (especially in Finland), I think because it's real kvlt status points to have that in your collection..
What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?
So far Horror Pain Gore Death Productions has put out our self-titled promo and LP 'Synkkä Tuuli' on CD, and Infernal Kommando Records has put out 'Synkkä Tuuli' and the 'Väinämöinen' EP on cassette. The response has been pretty phenomenal, especially considering this is raw ambient black metal we're talking about.. That being said, the more familiar a press entity is with obscure metal genres the better the critiques seem to be.. Pretty often we get reviews from publications tailored more towards mainstream "heavy metal" where a criticism will be the rawness of our sound, despite us being a "raw" black metal band to begin with... That's kind of like deducting points from a hardcore band for playing breakdowns, or a technical death metal band for being technical, but I suppose that's what comes with making a niche music, not everyone is going to understand it and I don't expect them all to...
Do you play live as well? How's your live activity so far?
We haven't played live and likely won't for a while, particularly now that NB is a one-man creative entity. Considering NB already has label support and an international reach (things many "working" bands in the states try to obtain for years without any success), there just isn't much to gain from recruiting a full line-up and coordinating rehearsals to play local dive bars in Delaware, especially since the American black metal scene is non-existent..
What should labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?
I think the style and compositions are what really set NB apart from other black metal acts. I personally don't attempt to be jarring in my posturing nor play grinding riffs which are cacophonous for the sake of cacophony, plenty of chaotic acts do this and sound great at it, but it just doesn't appeal to me on a creative level. I stay progressive at heart, and one thing I think is pretty unique to the NB style is the use of traditional black metal chording with melodic minor and major keys to illicit an uplifting feel to certain sections of tracks, expanding the dynamics of the song further than just constant doom and gloom. Another great thing about NB is the talent that comes through it: James Dorton, who did vocals on the EP and will record for the next album as well, is practically a celebrity now as Black Crown Initiate has exploded; M.W.S. recently had his main act Serpent ov Old signed to HPGD and has toured with Wykked Witch; and to call Lawrence Wallace an amazing musician would be an understatement (he doesn't play guitar on the NB material but he is literally one of the best guitarists on the east coast, check out Lawrence's Creation if you don't believe me).
What plans do you have for the near future as a band?
The next album based on the "Kalevala" is complete except for vocals, again due to James' pre-tour schedule with Black Crown Initiate being pretty crazy. I begin medical school at the University of Pikeville in Kentucky in July, but I can't imagine I'd stop releasing material any time soon (a freedom that comes with running a one-man "studio band"). I've already got another 4 or 5 tracks in mind for the third LP and more ideas come every day...
Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions sells the 'Synkkä Tuuli' LP (www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/store/hpgd062.html) and you can find it in independent record stores in the north east U.S., but the labels Primitive Reaction in Finland and Depressive Illusion in the Ukraine also distribute it, so check out their websites if that is more convenient for you. The limit-150 LP and 'Väinämöinen' EP cassettes can also be bought from those labels or directly from Infernal Kommando Records (www.infernalkommando.blogspot.com); if sold out you can still get it as a free download with Gun Shy Assassin (www.gunshyassassin.com/news/exclusive-nihilistinen-barbaarisuus-stream-and-download-vainamoinen) or on the NB Bandcamp (www.nihilistinenbarbaarisuus.bandcamp.com/album/v-in-m-inen). Obviously people are going to steal it too, there is no stopping bloody piracy, but we hope they at least give NB a like on the FB page if they're going to do it (www.facebook.com/nihilistinenbarbaarisuus).