Beltez

Interviews

This interview was done with a different approach. Every single question was mailed individually to Dominic and each following item based on his answer. This talk started on 24 July 2017 end ended on 4 February 2018.

Beltez

1. Welcome Dominic and thank you for your time to answer this unconventional interview. BELTEZ are active for 15 years by now and during this time your band left very different impressions on me. So let’s dwell into the history of the band for the beginning. When you founded (the true) BELTEZ you already played in another Black Metal Band called ORKUS. I saw them a couple of times and were quite fond of them. So what was your motivation to start yet another Black Metal band?

You’re welcome and I´m very pleased to answer these questions. First of all, I wasn’t playing at Orkus when Beltez was founded. I joined them some years later as their singer and guitarist after some band members left the band. Beltez at this time was a home-recording only project which grew to a band after Flagg from Orkus joined as a live bass player. Both bands symbolized different arts of playing Black Metal. I think my main motivation to play in two bands was to grew as a musician and play different styles.

2. As you said by yourself, both bands have an different approach on black metal. For me Orkus was more like end 90s black metal, playing with more harmonies like i.e. Dark Funeral meanwhile BELTEZ was more in the vein of the earlier second wave of the genre. Just to take Mayhem or early Darkthrone as comparison. How do you see the differences between both bands?

That’s very near to my opinion. ORKUS had a very melodic approach. Their first (“The Gate”) and second Output (“Thorns”) was a classic 90s melodic Black Metal sound. On “Worms Of Tomorrow” we had a more melodic Death Metal approach but still with all the old elements.

For BELTEZ on the other hand we tried to sound like BURZUM or other second wave bands. Starting from the screaming of our former singer Nameless to the long songs with repetitive riffs. It sounds so crappy because we recorded everything at home without good hardware to do so. Also the drum computer we used back then was – from a nowadays point of view – the worst we could use. But I’ve to state that all of BELTEZ music was created as a birthday gift for a buddy of us who was a great BURZUM fan. So we never had a professional claim to be or sound good. The main difference – excluding the sound – was the different approach to work. ORKUS was structured, live oriented and professional. Working on BELTEZ was pure anarchy.

3. BELTEZ started as a birthday gift? So there was no intention to form a real band in the beginning? When Orkus ceased to be, why did you continue with BELTEZ as a “real” band?

Haha, yeah… sounds silly right? But it wasn’t only a birthday project. Despite the funny background we still tried to write and record an as good as possible album within 48 hours. ORKUS never was my project, so after starting to record some new metal riffs and most of all because of “Selbstmord” the decision to reanimate BELTEZ was easy. Flagg liked the new version of “Selbstmord” and so we started to write some new songs which finally resulted in our album “Tod: Part I”. First I wanted to release the songs for free via online portals (Like we did on both BELTEZ demos in the beginning) but Flagg suggested to release it physically through Bret Hard Records which was - at this time - his baby. We needed a new singer because Nameless didn’t wanted to make music any longer so we asked our buddy M.P. which we knew from ALCHERA where he does the screams also. After two years we had finished everything and released it. But we never expected these positive reactions. We received a couple of gig offers and decided to start BELTEZ as a live band again. As you see, all decisions we made were very organic and not planned at all.

Orkus - Band

4. That would explain why there was such a huge development in your style over your three albums. Frankly, I didn’t really like “Beltane”. Maybe because it was formed in this crude and archaic way. And mainly because I didn’t understand black metal at the time listening to this album. As you already said, “Beltane” was written within only two days. For “Tod: Part 1” you took all together about nine years. Between this release and your recent output “Exiled, Punished… Rejected” you only had four years but had an even bigger development. How do you see the progression of BELTEZ? Might your short time with Ultha have influenced the song-writing of your latest record?

Well frankly I don’t like Beltane either but it is a time capsule. “Tod: Part 1” took so long because we never focused on working for new songs. As we started and gathered all ideas we had in the years, the record was written very fast and recorded at home in about one week. The work on “Exiled, Punished… Rejected” took some more time apart from the lesser years between the releases and truly had an even bigger development because we worked as a unit for the first time. I still wrote all the songs but the rest of the band was a good corrective for them. J. K. always “mock” me up if the songs where to melodic and not intense enough. My short time with ULTHA had surely an influence on the songs. Not on the writing of songs but on the main approach of doing it. If there are any similarities (which I don’t see apart from the same level of intensity we wanted to reach) that’s maybe because J.K. and Ralph from ULTHA have a very similar taste of music. “Exiled, Punished… Rejected” was almost written in the time of half an year. The recording took some time because our buddy Sven from the Klangfabrique Donrath was very busy with studying and other projects, so we had a little delay for the recording.

5. As you see some similarities between the approach on black metal music between BELTEZ and Ultha as well, let’s dig more into your influences. On “Beltane” it was surely the early second wave as you said by yourself. Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone. On the follow-up album I would see some late 90s styled influences (like Dark Funeral at this era) and even some slight moments of more modern post-black metal. And your current album continues some of those post-rock influences, but more in a way that us-american black metal bands would use it. Maybe speaking of Weaklings, but maybe more of Woe… And on the one hand, you state that you are the main songwriter behind BELTEZ, but on the other hand you mention that “Exiled…” might have some parallels to Ultha because of the musical taste of J.K.. So how would you describe your current inspiration and the influence of J.K.s background on your songwriting?

That’s a good question! My inspiration always differs from time to time because I’m not only into Black Metal or Metal itself. You also hear some punk influences on our first outputs. I would never compare us to WEAKLINGs Black Metal (For me they sound more like EMPEROR) but you are right… WOE would be a good comparison. Like WOE I always had a very melodic approach to songs. My main inspiration as a guitarist are the early NAGLFAR and GATES OF ISHTAR for the melodic parts and the German NAGELFAR for heaviness and riffing and you can hear that on many parts of “Tod: Part I”. But instead of sounding like on “Tod: Part I” J.K. always pushes me further to write something what now is the sound of “Exiled, Punished… Rejected”. If the riff or melody wasn’t “dark” or intense enough he always told me directly. And all these written melodies work very well with J.K. approach to create a lead sound. I’ve used mainly basic sounds on “Tod: Part I” but on “Exiled, Punsihed… Rejected” J.K. used very different effects (Flanger, Phaser, Echo over echo over echo…). J.K. also plays in a Goth-Rock band called KILLING SUZIE, grew up with THE CURE, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and in opposite to me in my early years, he never had a problem with hearing Metal and Gothic at the same time. But let’s be clear. We don’t have so much Wave influences like ULTHA and don’t want them either. The Post Black Metal touch comes from all these delays, echos and so on. We never wanted to sound like these bands but we use similar techniques to create our sound.

And we don’t have to forget to mention our drummer S.B. I used a drum computer on “Tod: Part I”. S.B. is more intense, creative and fast forward than my digital friend. Without him “Exiled, Punished… Rejected” would never sounded like it does.

Tod

6. Your influences from punk rock are very obvious looking on your ep “Fliehende Stürme”, which was named after the post-punk band and featured a cover-song from them as well. And on “Tod: Part 1” you played “Der Tod Ist Ein Meister Aus Deutschland” by Slime. So punk and black metal don’t rule each other out for you?

Definitely not. In my opinion Black Metal is Metals logical equivalent of Punk to Rock music. If you watch the beginning of both scenes there are so many similarities. Both wanted to provoke (like Sid Vicious did with wearing a swastika shirt) and wanted to sound rawer than other bands. A true youth attitude.

7. Well provoking with nazi-symbols has a history in black metal as well. Many bands from the early second era used those symbols or vocabulary to provoke. But some guys took it too serious and started the NSBM movement that is still ongoing. So it might be a good possibility to give a clear statement against NSBM by playing songs from left-winged punks as a black metal band. As you released “Beltane” on Ewiges Eis Records, there might have been the necessity for you to take distance from the right-winged scum?

You get it. I personally made the mistake not to check Ewiges Eis and their background (Remember, there was no Google back then). They made us a good offer and only wanted from us that we delete all political statements from our record. I was so stupid to agree to that. A mistake I deeply regret. To make clear where we stand politically we covered “Der Tod Ist Ein Meister Aus Deutschland” from German Punk legend SLIME which is based on the “Todesfuge” by German poet Paul Celan. This song was not only suitable for the main theme of the album but also has a good statement against racism and facism. We also had played that song live with ORKUS on almost every gig before.

8. Yeah, using the internet for research was not common in 2002. But to be honest, Google is around since 1997 (;

That’s true! But you know how poor the information on the internet was back then. But yeah, if I was more into a scene (that’s the problem when you have lived in a small village) and would have investigated better then maybe we never had made that mistake.

9. Back to our topic: Black Metal was associated with a more right-winged mindset for a long time. Though Euronymos was a communist and many bands had their roots and influences in punk rock as well. But today there are many bands emerging from a more left background, beginning with already mentioned Weaklings, WITTR to the more recent Woe, Ultha, Unru, Sun Worship, etc. How do you see this development? What do you think about bands playing black metal without having the original attitude like Deafheaven or Liturgy?

I never understood the point behind that right-winged mindset being so widespread in Black Metal. A right-wing, fascist idea is always accompanied with the absence of individualism and rebellion. Black Metal is also associated with hate against religion thus I don’t see a point why the race (I don’t like that term but let’s use it for this example) should be of any meaning. Long story short: A right-wing mindset makes no sense if you are into Black Metal. And don’t get me wrong here, but all extreme political ideas that don’t include the point of individualism also make no sense here. That’s the same problem you have in Punk Rock now. Communism and Fascism can’t be Punk.

And as I stated before, Black Metal should be rebellious. If the original attitude now has become a common mindset then why not doing something new? What marks these bands are not only the absence of the original attitude but also they are highly creative and brings the music to new levels. Despite that there are still good and creative bands with this old attitude out there.

10. Okay, let’s focus on your band again. Nowadays BELTEZ is just known by this name. But on your debut your band is called “the true BELTEZ”. Was this just a hommage to Mayhem or was there any deeper meaning?

We still had the “The True” on “Tod:Part 1” but decided to leave it out of our new logo. And as you assumed correctly it was just a homage to Mayhem, an idea born, while Nameless and I had drunk too much and created our first logo. Good old times… but the times are changing.

Beltez - Original Logo

11. So you created your first logo by yourself? I assume the new logo without the prefix was necessary to fit your visual image to your change in music… Who was responsible for the new design? For me it looks like a creation by View From The Coffin…

Yes exactly. In the beginning we made all of this ourself, from drawing the logo, drawing the backdrop or making the tapes (with copying from the computer via a mixer into the tape-deck). This was in the beginning of the band at around 2001 to 2003. For “Tod:Part 1” a buddy of us (The guitar player from SKUM) made an update of our old logo. For “Exiled, Punished… Rejected” we felt it necessary, as you expected, to change our logo to visualize the change in music and to made it more harmonising with the cover artwork and the style of the cd. And you’re right too. It was made by View From The Coffin. Maybe for the next record we will change it again if it doesn’t suit the overall visualization… who knows.

12. Ah, Roberto Parada was responsible for the rework of your original logo? He did the great artwork for “Tod: Part 1” as well. But for “Exiled…” you completely changed your visual style – conveniently to your music. Why have you chosen Benjamin Harff for your recent artwork? As I read from other interviews and your info on Bandcamp this album follows the concept of Wayne Barlowes novel “God’s Demon”. For those readers not familiar with this book: How does the picture fit into the concept?

Well, Benjamin Harff is an old friend of us and we loved his work for ATLANTEAN KODEX or his illustrated Silmarillion. We told Ben the main points of our adaptation and asked him to do an artwork that isn’t typical Black Metal. The interpretation of the artwork and how certain elements of it fit into our adaptation of “God’s Demon” should be made by the viewer himself. What we can say is that the interpretation of Ben differs a lot from Wayne Barlowes own artworks for his book. But that’s what we wanted. Not a “Magic: The Gathering” high fantasy painting but a creative and – in my opinion – outstanding artwork.

Beltez - old Logo

13. Frankly, I haven’t read “God‘s Demon” yet. But unwittingly I already was aware of Wayne Barlowes artistic contribution on various film projects like Hellboy, Pacific Rim etc. pp. As I read from the synopsis of “God’s Demon” it deals about how hell is structured and organized after the fall of Lucifer and his vanishing afterwards. A Demon Major is still aware of his former life in heaven and wants to return there. On the first sight it sounds like a classic high fantasy story about good and evil, about heaven and hell. And this would fit into a classical black metal context as well. Demons, Satan, Hell and so on. But I could imagine that there is another layer within this story. A more social and philosophic aspect shown in an abstract way. So why did this specific novel inspire you to write a concept album closely tied to this story?

To be honest “God’s Demon” is in some sort a high fantasy story but on the other hand feels like more reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” with all its intrigues. Wayne Barlow mixes several inspirations to his vision of hell like from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”, “Divina Commedia” and some elements of Mediterranean heathen religions. All of this was very inspirational for us as we were searching for a lyrical schema for the record. And as the idea of doing a concept for the record we decided to focus on this book. No one ever used it before (as far as I researched) and therefore it’s something like our own “Lord Of The Rings”.

14. Oh, okay. After “Tod: Part 1” I expected another concept album behind “Exiled…”. But even when only you adapted some parts of “God’s Demon”, it is still some kind of coherent story behind this album… That brings me to another question: Why didn’t you continue with another part of “Tod”? The title of your last album suggested the beginning of a series…

Yes there is some kind of coherent story. Adamantinarx describes the death of a man and the journey of his soul across the river Styx to Adamanatinarx - one of the biggest cities in hell – which is ruled by the demon Major Sargatanas. He is also one of the main characters of the story. In Soulweaving we describe the Sag-harim. soul-puppeteers, altered by Belzebub the regent of hell after Lucifer hasn’t been seen since the fall. These soul-puppeteers have a natural connection to mankind and can, driven by Belzebub, alter the way that souls take to lead them into hell where they then serve as slaves or building materials – called soulbricks – for the growing cities. So the ending of “Soulweaving” where a soul is altered to make its way to hell is the beginning of Adamantinarx where the journey to hell of the soul is told. We didn’t continued with “Tod” due to our change in the style. We wanted to try something new. Nonetheless a second part of “Tod” will definitely come.  We still have some songs which sound more like this record so maybe one day I will work them out. But first we are focusing on our next record that will hopefully be ready to be released end of the next year or the beginning of 2019 on Avantgarde Music.

15. Oh, that sounds as you already have a clear vision of your next album? May I ask for some details on the things to come?

You may ask but I have to say that we have no clear vision right now. Maybe it will be a loose concept again, maybe not. We are currently working out some ideas but this will take time. “Exiled” set the bar very high for us and we want to deliver an album as good as “Exiled”.

Exiled... 16. Well, indeed “Exiled…” was a really great album with a very coherent concept. For me it was very interesting that the opening theme was also used to close the last track. It knots the whole album together from beginning to end. What was your intention when you finished “Exiled…” with the same riff as it started?

As a statement for the “beginning is the end is the beginning…” thing. As mentioned before the story is a circle so it was clear to us to write a theme that also circles the music. It’s a small reference and a bow to the heartbeat on “Darkside Of The Moon”.

17. You mentioned that your next album will be released by Avantgarde Music in 2019. Congratulations to that deal. But “Exiled…” was released on Bret Hard Records. Frankly, this is not the first label that comes to my mind when thinking of black metal. I think you got signed to this small label because of your old bass player Flagg who runs Bret Hard, right? How did you get in touch with Avantgarde?

Yes. Flagg led Bret Hard Records in 2013. He felt that “Tod” was too good to not get noticed so he released it via BHR and also promoted it through a very good promotion agency. That’s why “Tod” got so widely noticed.

After “Exiled” was released Roberto from Avantgarde Music contacted us and asked if we already have planned a vinyl release and furthermore where we want to release our next album. At this point we decided not to work with BHR any more and started to search for a new label. What a luck we had! We are really looking forward to this!

18. Flagg isn‘t in Beltez anymore. Was he too busy with all his other musical projects? Was his departure another aspect for leaving Bret Hard?

That wasn’t the point. When we decided to do gigs again I suggested the current line-up with S.B. and J.K. We then would have had a very similar line-up as in our former band ORKUS. Flagg didn’t want that because we all didn’t harmonized very good in the last year of ORKUS. So I understand his decision not to join BELTEZ on stage. Sounds all a little bit harsh but we all are still friends. That’s only a musician thing.

Flagg did a great job when he led Bret Hard. With the current owner it didn’t worked out for us. I don’t want to go into details but there was a reason why we first announced a vinyl release on BHR and then switched to THE CRAWLING CHAOS RECORDS one week before the release of “Exiled”.

19. But hopefully Flaggs concerns about your current line-up didn’t prove true? Are you satisfied with the current incarnation of BELTEZ?

No, that’s not the point. I think he didn’t want to risk a friendship again. And if we were the same guys and didn’t had personally improved in the recent years I’m pretty sure he would have been right with his concerns but we aren’t. The working atmosphere now is great and highly creative. So his concerns didn’t prove true. As he is also playing in three other bands (SKUM, The Other, The Astral Sleep) I’m pretty sure he wasn’t that sad about it in the long term.

Beltez - Band

20. Did the old new members from Orkus have any influence on the songwriting of “Exiled…”? Did they contribute whole songs or helped you working out your ideas? Or is BELTEZ still your very own musical vision?

BELTEZ is now definitely our vision but I still wrote all the songs on “Exiled…” and I still keep doing it. But I have to say that without the help of the rest of the band it wouldn’t sound like it does now. As I said previously J.K. always takes me to new levels of harshness as I do with his ideas. Also S.Bs. drumming works better if we let him on the loose. If you compare “Tod…” with “Exiled…” you will definitely hear the differences and the power that this work sharing brings to the sound.

Tod 21. You said the former members of Orkus joined BELTEZ when you decided to play live again. But in the interviews about “Tod” you always stated: “Before releasing ‘Tod: Part 1’ we made clear that BELTEZ isn’t a live band anymore. We assumed that black metal is not real anymore.” What made you change your mind?

You have to ask Flagg what he meant there but we were probably wrong on that hahaha. Let’s just say we needed an excuse for the live abstinence. Don’t weigh every word we said back then.

22. Frankly, if you answer questions in an interview, the people might belief your statements. But on the other hand a lot of bands tend to exaggerate or tell those typical phrases that are expected by a black metal band. To be grim, to be misanthropic and so on. BELTEZ never had a problem that our members were active in not-so-true bands as well. So it is slightly a surprise that you fulfil clichés with statements about not playing live or even that you are not open for interviews. Was that Flaggs point of view only or did you evolve personally and as a band? Or was there something that changed your mind towards answering questions?

I don’t remember exactly how this “not open for interview” thing came up but we were always open for that since “Beltane”. I have to say that Flagg and I never planned to play live again but who cares about the balderdash we spouted yesterday. To be honest, you could play Black Metal Bullshit Bingo with our answers on interviews in the days of “Tod”. So it was not an evolving but a spontaneous decision to play live again (as well as some cool gig offers we never managed to play) and I think that with the current line-up it was the best decision. 

23. Was your switch from German to English lyrics a spontaneous decision as well?

No it wasn’t. Due to the fact that we used “Gods Demon” as our main story the decision to write also in English was on the hand. A second point was that we planned to print the lyrics this time and English is spoken and understood by almost everybody. I don’t think that we will ever write lyrics in German again. As you do your stuff in English language too I’m pretty sure you’ll agree to this, right?

24. Well, on my side it was a separation of concern. I still write in German on NecroSlaughter.de. But since TheNocturnalSilence.de got a totally different focus, I tried to widen my audience with the switch to English language. But for sure I see your point. As we are close to the end of our litte chat, let‘s take some time for recommendations. As I know your musical taste is not limited to black metal and you also played in a fun punk band as well, please feel free to give me some hints on bands that recently impressed you – despite any genre borders.

So far by now I’m going to play in a punk band again. I’m going to write the new album for German horror punk legend “Der Fluch”. Only this time we will alter the sound a little. So 2018 will be a pretty interesting year for me!

There were some great albums this year. I was totally blasted away by the new Kettcar album which now sounds more like their old punk band But Alive than this shitty German Pop-Music on their last album. “Sommer 89” is an intense and heart touching song. I also highly recommend to give the new Propagandhi album a listen. Technical, great lyrics and everything you need in modern Punkrock. I also loved the new Pertubator album. A great move forward for the dark synth scene. Talking about synth let’s visit the Indietronic scene. Hundreds made their best album so far. “Wilderness” shows how you can make Pop-Music and also write interesting songs. Also Grave Pleasures blasted me away with “Motherblood”. In my opinion much better than their last one and as good as Beastmilk. Honourable mentions are the new King Dude and Light Of The Morning Star. Both albums are worth a listening!

On the Metal-Side we have a great new Attic record. “Sanctimonious” is King Diamond worshipping on the highest level. Also Chaos Moon blasted me away with “Eschaton Mémoire”. Speaking about the best doom record it is clearly Bells Witch’s “Mirror Reaper”.

My personal first place are sharing two albums this year. The new Ruins Of Beverast. “Exuvia” is an intense experience which always gives me goose bumps in every second of its running time. The second one comes from King Krule. His album “The OOZ” is Doom Jazz at its most fucked up level that gives you the feeling as you are watching an Jazz concert where the singer is going to kill himself after the song. To say it by the words of King Krule. Its motion, it’s urgent, its trigger.

25. A last question about the latest highlight for your band in 2017: You recently had the release-show for the LP-edition of “Exiled…” together with Hexer. May you want to say something about the event for those who were not able to attend the gig?

It was a great gig. We had the Valhalla filled with 90 people and with Kay from Pripjat we had a good technician who did a great live sound. Hexer was stunning (But the guys forgot their black lights… so sadly no full live optics of them) and as far as I heard we did a great job too. There will be Beltez / Hexer gigs next year again.

26. Dominic, thank you for your time and answers. This different type of interview, asking each question individually, was really a pleasure for me. I hope you enjoyed it as well. Since this is the end of our chat, please feel free to leave your last words to my readers and especially your fans.

Christian, I also enjoyed it. This interview accompanied me through some of the hardest months in my life. An experience you don’t get this often in life. Thank you for these interesting questions which needed me to dig deep into my memories. As there are so many concerts we probably both will visit let’s finish this interview with a beer next time we see us.