Magick, Nihilism, Hallucinogenics. With a new album in the works and an impending sophomore excursion to Australia, HEAVY caught up with Absu mastermind Proscriptor McGovern to peer behind the curtain of mythological occult metal.
“When the band first started it was my main objective to categorize the music as mythological occult metal,” says McGovern, drummer/vocalist and last remaining member of the original Absu line-up.
“That’s simply what it is – a nice concoction of mythology and occult science. Most people would classify us as a black death outfit [but] on a musical basis I feel [Absu] is a nice balance between black, death, thrash, traditional heavy metal and progressive music, especially ‘70s rock and jazz fusion, even some late ‘60s psychedelic music,” he adds.
Officially beginning in 1991, America’s Absu have evolved through a number of line-up changes over the years, but will return to Australia with the same members as on their first tour in 2012.
“It has taken a couple of changes to get the band to where it is today with Ezezu (drums/vocals) and Vis Crom (guitars), and I feel that not only is this the strongest unit on a song-writing basis, but also in a live atmosphere,” McGovern says. “They’re very aggressive warriors, they’re diehard and they’re hungry for power. I feel that we’re very vehement on stage and we’re looking forward to our return to Australia. We’re going to change our set up as much as possible and display many different songs than on the previous tour.”
Aside from their international touring schedule, Absu’s main priority for 2014 is the release of their seventh album Apsu. Expected to be released early next year on Candlelight records, the album, which is entitled with the Sumerian spelling, will complete the self-titled trilogy that began with Absu, the English translation in 2009, and 2011’s Mesopotamian translation, Abzu.
“We plan on starting the recording process in the latter part of summer, which will be somewhere between August and September,” McGovern says.
With Apsu, Absu are shooting for a range of 14-18 songs that are shorter, more straight-to-the-point compositions that diverge from the longer epics found elsewhere in their discography. So how is the new writing approach working out?
“Very well,” McGovern says. “We’re all scattered across North America; I’m in Texas, Ezezu is currently residing in Ottawa, Canada and Vis Crom is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania so it’s constant file-sharing and rehearsing on our own, but we try to congregate as much as possible in Texas to compose and arrange the music in rehearsal mode. It is somewhat challenging but at the same time I feel this is the strongest and most stalwart line-up in the band’s existence.”
The album is set to be recorded by at Nomad studios in Dallas, where the majority of Absu albums (excluding the first two) were recorded, and will then be mastered in London and, as with the previous two, released on Candlelight records. The artwork, representing the philosophical concepts underpinning Apsu, will again be handled by Zbigniew Bielak who is also known for his work with Watain, Ghost, Entombed and Deströyer 666.
“There’s a heavy conceptual [idea] behind the artwork, and I know that he’s illustrating 14 pieces for the album,” McGovern explains. “There will be a separate LP and CD cover, but there will also be intricate artwork released inside the packaging of both of those formats.”
McGovern says the inspiration for the concept and lyrics is drawn from his hallucinogenically-invoked fascination with various forms of magic and mythology, which has recently taken a more scientific direction.
“I’ve been delving into more scientific topics, one in particular is mereological nihilism,” McGovern says. “That is the position that objects with proper parts do not exist; not only objects in space but also objects existing in time that do not have temporal parts. It sounds convoluted but tying in a lot of nihilistic topics, scientific natures, reductionism and astronomical ties that relate to the occult science, Thelemic and geisha magic, has been part of the lyrical construction of the album.”
Although he hasn’t dabbled in hallucinogenics since he was 18, McGovern says he is still influenced by his psychedelic experiences on a daily basis. He believes it not only aided in his academic pursuits, but also in being a scholar and a mentor among others, and it is this power McGovern aims to incorporate into the poetic ways of Absu’s lyrics.
“It definitely immensely opened up my mind’s eye and I feel that it has created a lot of positive reinforcement, not only within myself but to open up my mind, to vastly obtain knowledge of who I am and what is within planet earth and the universe. It’s so very important to me and it’s something I practice on a daily basis.”
Having played in Absu for more than two decades now, McGovern reflects on his career and says that while he draws inspiration from a range of genres, at the end of the day extreme metal is the only thing that can satiate his soul.
“The older I become, the wiser I become, yet on another level I’ve become more jaded because there are a lot of bands that exist on this planet,” he says. “I try and let my influences come from other forms of music that I enjoy and am enthralled by, although they can be somewhat mundane – I play extreme metal to keep me occupied. It’s part of my self-attribution and lifestyle.”
Absu’s national tour with Portal and Denouncement Pyre kicks off next week, for more information on this HEAVY sponsored tour click here.