One Master is a crushing black metal band that has just released “Reclusive Blasphemy” on Eternal Death Records and here is an interview with band member Valder.
How did the band come together? Were you or any of the band members in any other bands at the time the band was formed?
The band started as a solo project in 2002 because I couldn't find anyone with similar musical interests who wanted to start something new. I had been listening to black metal for several years at that point and wanted to try to write/play music in that style. I didn't have any other bands at that time.
Now the band was based out of Boston, Mass in its early stages. Why did the band move from there to Conn/NY later on? Are all the band members now living in the same area?
When I first started the band I was living in Boston and it was based out of there until 2009 when our drummer quit and we went on hiatus.
In 2013, one of my friends (the current drummer) asked if I wanted to make One Master a functioning band again. The band started back up again with him on drums and another friend on bass, they both live in NYC. Right after we started to get back to the level of being a functioning band again, the other guitar player ended up moving to Europe so we got a friend to join originally as a live member but is now in the band full-time. He and I both live in CT.
How would you say the Boston, Mass underground metal scene was back then and what are your thoughts on the NY underground metal scene these days?
There are some great bands based out of Boston (Grue, Human Bodies, Panzerbastard, and Impenitent Thief come to mind) but its overall a pretty small group. NY is such a large city with people moving in and out so often that I don't know if it has what could be called a cohesive underground 'scene' as such. There are many great bands based in NY (Yellow Eyes, Vorde, Gath Šmânê, and Negative Plane come to mind) but also many that I don't really care for.
Now tell me about the early days of the band. Did you start to write originals right away or did you fool around with some cover tunes early on and then move on to original songs?
The band was created with the purpose of writing original material. During the recording of the first demo I tried putting together a cover of 'Welcome to Hell' by Venom but it didn't end up coming out how I wanted it to sound so it never got released.
How does a song come together? Who write the music and puts a song together? Who writes the lyrics and what is some of the stuff you write about?
Song writing is a very slow process for us. I'll work on riffs/ideas by myself and usually refine them for a while before bringing them to the band. In rehearsals we see what works and what doesn't and the entire band puts a stamp on the final song. Everything with us moves slowly. Time is the only way to get real perspective on things and properly judge a song.
I write all of the lyrics. Every release has a theme that forms the core of what the songs are about. The theme for the first full length was the power one can gain from hyper-focus on a specific goal/idea, using a fictional character as a vehicle for that theme. The second album was about understanding one's place in the world and the power that comes from having proper perspective. The theme of the new album is what can be gained from introspection/isolation.
How long was the band together before you released your demo in 2002? What are your thoughts on this demo these days and what sort of feedback did you get on it at the time?
The band was started for the purpose of doing the demo and then seeing where things might go. I had been working on the songs for a few months before I recorded it.
Looking back, it’s not a bad first attempt at playing a music style I had never performed before and also using a drum machine for the first time. I can't say I listen to it that frequently or would hold it up to people as an example of the band today, but it’s good for what it was at the time. People seemed to like it when I release the demo. It got a few favorable reviews and friends who I gave copies too enjoyed it.
Now in 2004 you released another demo. What are your thoughts on this demo and did this lead to you getting a record deal, which I will get to in a minute?
I have a similar view on this demo as the first – it is good for what it is, but nothing I really listen to a lot anymore. It was the first recording with a full band lineup and the first recording for our drummer actually playing drums, so it was a stepping stone on many levels. The demo didn't directly lead to a record deal, but it did get some favorable reviews.
Now how did you come up with the band name and are you happy with it these days?
The name perfectly captures what the band is about, and what I think black metal is ultimately about – reclaiming for oneself what humanity has given to deities (both religious and secular).
Do you feel you're an original band and what would you say you sound like if someone was to ask you what style of music you play?
We play traditional black metal. We're not 'artists' and aren't trying to reinvent music.
Now in 2006 you released your first full length called 'Forsaking a Dead World.' Who put this out and is it still for sale and if not would you like to see it get re-released? How was it going into the studio to record your first full length release?
It was originally self-released by the band on CD. Peasant Magik later re-released it on tape and then Eternal Death re-released the CD in 2013. Both labels are sold out, but it is available from other distros / on-line shops.
We recorded that record at our rehearsal space with the assistance of a friend. Working in a familiar environment with familiar people reduces the tension that naturally accompanies recording.
Now it took three years (2009) for your next release, which was another full length called 'The Quiet Eye of Eternity.' Why the long wait in-between releases? Who released this and is it still for sale?
Things always move very slow with us. The song writing process can move at a glacial pace sometimes. I typically like to try out every possible alternate version of a riff or arrangement before being satisfied with the final product.
The record was recorded in 2008. Some labels had expressed interest in putting it out but they just kept delaying and nothing ever happened on that end. We got sick of waiting and just self-released it on CD in 2009. Peasant Magik re-released it on vinyl and then Eternal Death re-released the CD in 2013. Both labels have copies still available, and several distros / on-line shops have copies.
What are your thoughts on it these days? Did you do anything different in the studio this time as opposed to your debut release?
With every album I think there has been progress on every level – song writing, recording quality, etc. We still sometimes play two of the songs from this album live (The Destroyer Pt I and II).
We recorded this album with a friend of a friend in Philadelphia over a few weekends. It had a little bit more of a time crunch and general pressure than the prior recordings.
The following year you did a split release with the band Glass Coffin. Was this a split 7” or a split CD? Who released this and is it still for sale and how did you come into contact with Glass Coffin or did the label that put this out contact them?
It came out as a split tape on Peasant Magik. Sal who runs (ran) the label asked us to do it and was already in contact with Glass Coffin – he is the one who put the pairing together. I had never previously heard them but the material is great – real raw black metal in the right tradition.
By now was it any easier to put together songs? What was the hardest song the band ever wrote and is there a favorite song that you personally like?
Nothing has really made songwriting easier. I have a perfectionist attitude and things will just never move fast. The song 'Field of Ruins' from our second album is our longest and has the most chord/riff changes. I'd say right now my favorite song is 'A Cursed and Dismal Mind.' We're all satisfied with how it came out on the record.
Now we fast forward to 2014 and a live album came out called 'Live in the Castle of Quiet.' Where was this recorded at and was the band nervous all knowing that this was going to be recorded for a release or did you not know ahead of time?
It was recorded at the studio of WFMU and went out live over the air during the 'My Castle of Quiet' show. Before going in we had the idea of putting it out as a live album but were only going to do so if the performance and sound quality was up to our standards. We thought we played fairly well and the sound quality was great so we decided to put it out. William who does the program is a great guy and we were pleased to be able to use the recording. Bill / No Visible Scars released the tape and did an outstanding job with it.
Has the band gotten to play much over the years and what are some of the places you have played live and who are some of the bands that you have shared the stage with? Do you think you're a good live band and are there many live clips of the band on say YouTube and places like that?
We don't play out that often. Two venues we've played more than a few times are The Acheron in New York and Dusk in Providence – both are great spots for an underground metal show. We recently played with a newer band called Human Bodies that is outstanding. Our drummer is great and I think that typically makes for a good live band with this style of music. There are some YouTube clips of some recent shows available.
Now you just released a fantastic new album called 'Reclusive Blasphemy' on Eternal Death Records. How did you end up hooking up with them and where was this new record recorded at and how did things go in the studio for ya?
I actually run Eternal Death. We got sick of labels expressing interest but then things never going anywhere, so I just decided to start my own label. I have been fortunate to be able to work with some great bands and things have been going well so far.
We recorded the new record with our friend Ian Jacyszyn. It was all done in fall/winter of 2014. He brought in his gear to our rehearsal space and we did it over several weekends. He really did a great job – it is by far the best sounding/produced album that we have done.
Do you or would you like to play a lot of live shows to help support this release? Do you think you will ever get to play any show overseas one day?
We enjoy playing live, but we all have a lot of things going on and often don't have time to play out frequently. There are plans to playing more gigs than usual now that the new record is out. We would love to play overseas, that just depends on whether we get the right offer.
Do you guys as a whole have any goals for the band or do you kinda take things day by day and just see how things go?
When we started being a functioning band again in 2013 the goal was to finish writing and recording a new album – which is what ended up being 'Reclusive Blasphemy.' Now that is finished, we'd like to play some good gigs to support it and then keep working on new songs and see where things go.
Do you feel there are too many bands in the underground these days and that it just makes things that much tougher to get stood out for the crowd so to speak meaning it is tougher for a band like yourselves to stand out an away from all the bad bands out there?
There have always been lot of bad bands but with the internet and digital recording it is easier for people to pollute the world with their shit music. With the large number of bands releasing material, it can be difficult to stand out, but that's out of our control. All we can do is write songs we like and see where things go.
Tell me a bit about this 'I Am One Master' demo tape that I read about.
It’s actually just an alternate name for the first demo I did in 2002.
Horns up for your fantastic new release and doing this interview. Any last words the floor is yours.
“It appears to me that [sin] is simply an attempt to penetrate into another and higher sphere in a forbidden manner. You can understand why it is so rare. They are few, indeed, who wish to penetrate into other spheres, higher or lower, in ways allowed or forbidden. Men, in the mass, are amply content with life as they find it.” - Arthur Machen, The White People
Interview by Chris Forbes