Ralph S. from Ultha and Planks

Interviews

I am a huge fan of both Planks and Ultha. And Ralph, the creative head behind both bands, is a unique person with a deep understanding of music and many things beyond. He‘s 38 years old, became obsessed with music at the age of 12, finding his home in Dark Wave, extreme Metal and Punk early on through a Sisters Of Mercy/The Cure/Alice Cooper/Metallica mixtape from a French exchange student. A stolen bass to learn New Model Army songs was his start at age 14 to teach himself to play instruments. At the moment he works as a secondary school teacher teaching Philosophy, English, Drama and Music. He was born and raised in southern Germany and resides in Cologne at the moment.

We started a conversation in August 2017 about his bands, the scene, politics, diy-ethos, literally everything. This chat ended in June 2018. And this is the result: an intense and detailed interview.

© Deathless Pictures (2018).

Welcome Ralph. It is a real pleasure to have you answering my humble questions. I have a lot of respect for you because of your great taste in music, looking behind the horizon of metal and your musical output as well. Please forgive me that some questions might already have been asked since I wanted to compile a complete round-up about you and ULTHA. So let’s begin long before ULTHA was founded. Your last band PLANKS already had some slight black metal influences. There even was a promotional sticker on one of your albums describing the music as “Darkthrone and Mastodon playing songs by The Cure”. So was it just a logical consequence for you to start a ‘real’ black metal band?

Hey Chris, thanks for having me and also for the kind words. I appreciate it. Well, “looking behind the horizon of metal” sounds great, but actually, what does that even mean? I think, I just don’t limit myself to just one genre. Never have, never will and I always felt appreciation for musical development. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “metal head” in the classic sense, because metal was always just one of many styles of music I particularly enjoyed, even it may be my favorite in the long run. But in the last months that interest isn’t as high anymore, because a lot of development and attitude in this scene in recent years is plain boring or upright stupid to me. But back to the topic of being a metal-head: I feel, being considered a full-on metal head requires a lot of dedication and even lifestyle. Since I have interests in so many different art forms and musical styles I guess this isn’t the appropriate term for me. Also I fucking hate dress codes. Nonetheless I do consider myself a huge metal enthusiast, especially for the darker and heavier genres, and I have been a fan now for nearly 27 years.

There is a lot I dislike about classical, obsessive fandom in music: I hate narrow-mindedness and this is still a bigger issue in broader parts of many scenes, especially the (black) metal underground. But on the same hand, I hate trend hoppers who change their style according to the most popular band and genre at the moment – a major issue a lot of German bands have. For me music needs to be a free expression of a feeling you want to get across. By limiting yourself to a set of laws some purists dictate or imitating the hippest style a lot of artists restrain themselves from creating true, passionate and heartfelt art. If you really feel this passion and fire the more traditional black metal bands had, and you execute it with a fierce, unrelenting power, then it’s authentic and totally fine by my definition. Mostly it’s more about image, being extreme in one way or another or imitating what has being termed the law. This is not what I want for me or my band.

The sticker you refer to was a promo line on Funeral Mouth, Planks’ third album. It’s actually a quotation from Greg Anderson (SunnO))), Southern Lord). Southern Lord re-released Planks’ second album The Darkest Of Grays and he was interested in releasing the third album. When he heard it he was honest enough to say he didn’t like Funeral Mouth because it sounded to him like the sentence we quoted. That’s fine and I have only respect for Greg. He is a great guy. But he is very much into keeping music close to original patterns the genre grew up with. So naturally our more pop-elements sounded horrible to him. His focus is unrelenting brutality in music – mine isn’t.

About the black metal influences on Planks you’re right: after our first album every Planks record had a few nuances, most clearly audible in the use of an occasional blast beat or tremolo picking. But it never sounded like a full-on black metal record. Black metal to me was always a feeling, an aura and a certain way to arrange melodies in a disharmonic and cold way that still sounds most beautiful in its entirety. Ultha is way closer to a ‘regular’ black metal band than Planks ever was, but what seems to make Ultha unique is the way we use classical patterns and musical aesthetics and blend them into something interesting. At least that’s what people keep telling me. In the end it’s the same as with Planks: The mixture of influences and to dare to do exactly what you deem appropriate for your musical goal should be the only law musicians work by, not a strict code of norm dictated by purists.

Okay, that was my fault. I never classified you as a “metal head” for myself but as a person who lives without the boundaries of a specific style. But since you made this point clear, everything is fine… In our last talk you already classified the difference between your influences of black metal on Planks and those direction i.e. Tombs took. You said that you didn‘t like the way your brothers in mind developed on “Path of Totality”, using too much black metal elements. Now you have started a full-blown band of this style by yourself, but do not want to follow the puristic code of conduct.

Well, it’s not that I dislike Tombs’ black metal elements. Their approach was pretty cool back then. I just liked the mid-tempo, more atmospheric elements better. Their first EP and Winter Hours will always be my favorite part of their catalog. But from there on Planks and Tombs developed into completely different directions. Mike is a close friend and I think he is a fantastic songwriter, so I will always support Tombs. He’s a man striving for individuality and musical evolution, two things I think should be a key element to every bands’ art. If you check out Tombs’ current record and compare it to Converging Sins there are almost no similarities even though our mindset is often alike. Ever since they started recording with Ruthan, their sound is really dry and sharp. I love reverb and that’s almost non-existant in Tombs on their recent full-lengths. But that EP Sanford Parker recorded, that was a killer release in sound and songwriting. And Parker LOVES reverb.

When black metal started, it was an antithesis towards the commercialized death metal. Putting danger and romantic back into a harsh music. But over the years the genre became more and more toothless. Where the early pioneers of the second wave tried to start something new, made experiments with sounds and influences, most black metal bands today try to maintain an ancient cliche, to fulfill certain rules that they think black metal consists of. The progressive and forward-thinking genre became a lot a copy of a copy of a copy. Nevertheless there are still manifold definitions on this kind of music. On the one hand it is the purist kind of view. Keeping the music simple, monotonous, repetitive, hypnotic. But there are other descriptions as well. Some guys say it‘s all about a satanic point of view, other may stay to the romantic vision of heritage or just pure negativity. So what‘s your definition of “black metal”? Is it a bleak, gloomy atmosphere, build up with minimal and repetitive arrangements?

The funny thing is that everything goes in circles. Trends come and last until a genre is completely drained with mediocrity. That’s what has happened to death metal in the nineties and black metal brought something fresh to the table. It was almost punk in a way and that’s what a lot of those old bands were: They were almost anarchistic with a “fuck off” attitude like GG. But now black metal is so popular and brought so many mediocre bands in the third wave/fourth wave that death metal is becoming the “new hype”. So yeah, now black metal in 20172018 has seen everything and was transformed into the oddest shapes and forms. If you can or should still call that “black metal” I don’t know. But I also don’t see myself being the guy to determine “This is black metal and that is not” and I don’t care. No one should. But still there are so many people doing so. I met some guys who praised their band as the true heirs of “The Black Metal”. They told me Ultha isn’t a black metal band and it made me cringe. I asked what they based their judgment on… their answer was we didn’t look metal. Enough said.

As stated earlier I just look for an authenticity in the music and the overall appeal of a band. I prefer bands that take classic black metal patterns and transform them; bands that dare to see what feeling black metal has for them and transform it into something unique. Take Horseback’s “The Invisible Mountain” for example: It’s an Earth styled country record with shrieking vocals, an odd mixture for sure. But if you listen to it, it brings the same bleakness and dissonant harmony the Scandinavian forefathers had.

Ultha isn’t as far away from classical Scandinavian black metal as Horseback is. We rather take the repetitive approach a lot of the American bands from the West Coast use. I just like this best, because it resonates with me the most and since I write the riffs for Ultha this is kind of what I bring to the table. If the others dig it, they give feedback, so we as a group make our own thing from this recipe. But we don’t back down from writing an all-slow song or even a more wave-pop kind of tune (see Mirrors In A Black Room). We do what we feel brings across the atmosphere we want. I guess that’s why a lot of reviews said the we mix the Scandinavian style with USBM and a have a unique touch to it. Since we write this music primarily for ourselves it’s okay that a lot of purists think we suck. We’re not satanic, we’re not occult, we’re certainly not “true” – I guess being called punks, due to our background (what we’ve often heard as an attempt to insult us) is a compliment after all, because we know what we want and fight for creative freedom in this genre we love so much.

Ultha
© Deathless Pictures (2016).

That‘s an interesting point. You said you prefer the bands that take classic patterns of black metal and transform them. And in other interviews you said that you try to compose your songs using the very popular pop-music pattern. The same applied to Planks as well. And as you said, you are not afraid of writing more wave-pop influenced songs as well. Well, that‘s no big surprise as you are a huge fan of dark wave and post-punk. Bands like New Model Army or The Cure had a major influence on you and your style. And the last time we met you went to see the great Fields Of The Nephilim. Since Planks already had major influences of this kind of music, why did you choose to start a black metal band? Is it the more aggressive touch that metal adds to the bleak and melancholic atmosphere?

That Ultha is my band right now and we play this style of music is a mere coincidence. The idea was born between Jens, our first guitarist, and me. He’s one of my best friends and the chemistry we have in writing music together is unlike anything I ever had before. We bounced ideas for about 100 projects, and I guess all of them could have worked, but then our drummer Manu moved to Cologne. Most of us in Ultha knew each other for a long time before starting this vessel, since we played shows together with our old bands. Manu was always one of my favorite metal drummers and just a fantastic human being. When he moved to Cologne I nailed him down to a band before he had a flat in this city. For Jens and me it was clear, if Manu moves to this town we need to finally do the black metal band we wanted for so long.

Metal mostly doesn’t really feel aggressive to me. I think a lot of punk and hardcore is way more aggressive. And I don’t talk Sick Of It All here. Take Catharsis, Poison Idea, Talk Is Poison, Black Flag and likes, they mostly “out-aggressive” any metal band. They rip. But the intensity and fury some metal does bring feels cathartic to a lot of people. As said before, the black metal I grew up to love wasn’t super brutal, but it had a sharp, ripping edge and an almost punk mixture of melody, attitude and drive. So all these styles kind of intertwined here. Since, in comparison to death metal for example, black metal has this melancholic, dark and nihilistic undertone to it, I was reminded of my first Sisters Of Mercy mixtape I got from a French exchange student in 1992. In retrospect it’s hard to distinguish what came first: The chicken or the egg. But well, these styles just all touched me in similar ways. By chance I ended up playing in bands since I got my first bass with 14. Here I am today, still playing this loud and gnarly music that means so much to me. Believe me, I tried to do different bands forever, but I just never found the right people to do it with. If Manu hadn’t moved here, Jens and I probably would’ve started a Cocteau Twins / The Chameleons styled band. Who knows. But I love what I have in Ultha: A group of five individuals who all share a widespread taste and knowledge in music, willing to experiment and aim for feeling and atmosphere as well as giving a fuck about public opinions and trends. That’s all I ask for.

That leads to a very delicate topic: Black Metal in its second wave had a lot of punk attitude. It was born as an anti-statement against commercialized death metal and cut down the music to minimalist and reduced vocabulary, focusing everything on a cold and bleak atmosphere. In this reduced instrumentation it is very close to classic punk-rock or hardcore. Even the first pink edition of Mayhems “Deathcrush” with this cut’n paste layout might have some nods to those genres as well (see “Evolution Of The Cult”, Dayal Patterson). And Euronymos was an avowed communist too. But those references were rapidly forgotten and right-wing scum flooded into black metal; the scene had a bad reputation for many years. In recent years, starting with Weakling and Wolves In The Throne Room, more and more left-winged bands entered the stage and formed some kind of new anti-statement. Generally this does not seem to be a deal for most people in the scene – metalheads tend to be “apolitical” and to tolerate NSBM-bands as long as they enjoy the music. But in Germany it seems to be an important topic. As far as I noticed, you were part of a “Left Black Metal”-Feature in Deaf Forever Magazine and many interviews think of you as a political band. But on the other hand the internet social justice warriors did not understand that you share stages with alleged right bands and did not leave the stage to them alone. So how do you see the development of political backgrounds in black metal in general as well as the specific importance of this topic in German media?

To quote my brother Chris Grigg (Woe), let’s call it for what it is, Nazi Black Metal. NSBM always sounds too distinguished, almost sophisticated and fancy. Fascist and racist ideologies are not a “point of view”, they’re a shame and a crime. I hate a lot of things and I hate a lot of people, but this is due to them being humans and acting accordingly, with all the shit people tend to do. I don’t fucking care what skin color, sexuality or history they have - I judge people by their actions. Our species was born with the ability of rational thinking and self-reflection – it would be great if some of these halfwit bigots would use this ability now and then. So, simply put, fuck Nazi Black Metal!

To say you’re “apolitical” is a very political statement in itself. I explained this in the this feature in Deaf Forever you refer to. This all kind of put us on the path we ended up on this April. It was intended to be a special about black metal bands that don’t have a traditional background or message. I mean look at the other bands in that special, like Antlers, Sun Worship etc. We all (well, at least most of us) grew up in a mixed universe of metal, hardcore and punk, a world where politics and DIY attitude played an important role. But none of us are “political bands”. We’re political people playing black metal. That’s probably the biggest difference from a traditional scene where “being apolitical” is the consensus. Somehow this special then was received as collection of political black metal bands. Ultha, as Planks was before it, is a mere vessel to express my emotions; the lyrics are about this mess I call my life, about the human mistakes I make/made. I would never have political messages in my songs, as this is just not what drives me to write. But still I live in this world of injustice and living hell to so many. I grew up as an outsider filled with disappointment and running from mistake to mistake. At some point I realized I can’t change my path, so I gave up. But in that moment I figured I can help others not going through this hell, so I started working in educational sciences full-time; help others help themselves. That’s where most of my energy goes – and my own mess is being dealt with by tragic lyrics and sad songs.

As for “heritage”: I couldn’t care less about being German. This has no implications on my life. It’s a thing of chance we were born to the parents we have in the place they live(d). So judging someone because he was born in a different part of the world is superficial and hollow. I like living here, but I would also like about a dozen other countries. I appreciate nature, food, culture etc. and I like what Germany has to offer in this segment. But I’m not a one to praise traditions and old values – I just see mistakes people made. Fascism is such a mistake that will always haunt us, that’s why the Nazi black metal issue will always be such a problematic and disgusting topic, especially in Germany. It’s important to address this issue and never forget.

As you said that both Ultha and Planks deal with your very personal issues: You suffer from depression, as I read in another interview. I know that this is a very complex yet sensitive topic. Although there are many affected people in society, it is still some kind of taboo. But you used your music as a channel to express the darkest of your feelings. PLANKS used to be your diary. And I think it is a perfect illustration of this illness, the bleak and gloomy atmosphere you created with your lyrics. As you write all the lyrics and music for ULTHA and use personal issues as topics as well, would you consider your new band as a continuation of your diary in another form? Isn’t it challenging for your main singer Chris to express your stories/lyrics?

It’s definitely a continuation, as it is the only thing I feel the urge to write about in both music and lyrics. Dealing with this consumes a lot of time and energy, but creating music and writing lyrics eases things to a certain degree. I could write about political issues. I mean, look at the fucked up situation this world is in. It’s a bigot shithole. There are a million things to write about. Today it kind of feels more terrifying and urgent, more surreal and sickening as ever before. Maybe it’s the omnipresent force of media pushing all the negatives onto you; maybe it’s just that humanity is more selfish and maniacal as it has ever been. But I can only try to control this very small bubble I live in, and that’s already hard enough for me. So I try to get this out of my system by creating art. I feel this is the last revolutionary, counter-societal act of resistance in my life, where on all other levels I seem to have slightly given up.

Being on stage or creating this music is cathartic and yet it’s so two-faced. Nowadays everything about me feels this way, everything has two (extremely different) sides: I write these very personal lyrics about the way I feel isolated and driven by failures, I cut off hundreds of contacts and friendships over the years; I spend most of my time at home trying to avoid people – But then again I have another person sing my words, work as a teacher, drive in a van for hours with others and play to hundreds of people with a very extroverted live show and do a lot of social media for the band. It’s weird, but it helps to keep things in a balance. Also, and that is probably the best part the bands gave me, I enjoy conversation with like-minded people who come up to me, chatting about my lyrics or how this illness affected their lives. People tattooed lines I wrote onto their body and wrote letters to me, thanking me that I gave their misery a voice and a soundtrack, that I saved their lives. That’s why I started being very honest about my feelings in interviews very early. You know, Ultha might not be a revolutionary band, and Planks wasn’t either, but I know both bands were honest to the core in their doing. That’s what I cherish and that’s what distinguishes this small percentage of bands in this genre I admire from the 95% of the rest. Yes, some of these 95% are not stupid imposters of the 90ies in Norway but bad ass musicians or lyricists, still they lack authenticity and feeling.

When we started this band Planks was still around. I knew my voice was fucked up beyond repair and that I would have to keep my vocal contribution to Ultha small. I had severe problems with my job, and as much as I despise this having priority, my voice in this job is my paycheck. So when Chris said he wanted to try and then delivered these (now perfect) screams I knew things would be different. We tried writing lyrics together, but that didn’t work out. But Chris said he’d be okay with singing my words if a) he can relate and b) it would be okay with me. Since he is one of the only people I consider a true friend and trust that he gets what I’m trying to express I can live with him doing the major part of the lyrics.

What made you deal with your illness openly in interviews? I know some other artists suffering from depression and taking much creative energy out of it, but do not speak publicly about their mental condition. There are some minor moments in history, when there is a social awareness of depression: When a popular singer or football player commits suicide everybody cares about it. But after a couple of weeks this topic becomes a taboo again – except you play in a depressive suicide black metal band and use this illness as some publicity trademark…

Here again I feel there is a lot of facade in play. Being depressed is a good gimmick to make you look real deep and intellectual. When rather quiet souls, as Chris Cornell was, decide to end their lives, of course the press has a hard-on for that and a lot of people too, so they can start their R.I.P.-post marathon, “because they have always been fans”. This doesn’t help anyone, because an open talk about the topic is not possible in gossip-land. There is no sustainable development here, because as you said right, after a few weeks it’s forgotten again. This topic is a taboo, as the norm dictates that it’s abnormal and religion still has the moral high-ground to stigmatize suicide to the worst crime a person could commit. Pretty insane when you see all that’s being done in the name of some false idols. It’s all still very surreal and affected people can hardly find any decent help.

My father is a roughneck and my family pretty uptight and conservative, even though they’re not religious at all. Whenever I tried to address this topic at home I just earned rolling eyes and “it’s just a phase - depression isn’t real thing” kind-of statements. So this in a way pushed me out into the open, sharing with others. I tried therapy twice and quit after a few sessions. It felt like having sex with a prostitute: For your money you get a short time of a seeming relief. But since I knew the person needs to earn a living, it felt I only get served stuff from a playbook to get me going. There was no honest feeling behind it, no real interest. So for me it wasn’t real and therefore a waste of time. But I had great talks with total strangers who came up to me at Planks shows and now also with Ultha. They said, they admired my openness when it comes to this topic; that the music and lyrics I create made them feel cradled and understood.

The thing is, what I do isn’t that hard (I think), because I actually just openly state that I suffer from depression and that it dictates my almost every doing. I have art to give the feelings I have in my heart a face I couldn’t explain otherwise. But I only rarely discuss details about my symptoms, how these phases fuck me up and how ruined big parts of my 38 years on this nutshell were/are. But that alone is an almost unbearable task for a lot of people suffering from depression. I work as a teacher and before that worked with teenagers in youth centers for almost 15 years. There I learned that a straight forward, honest and open approach leads to the best results and most positive learning developments. So this kind of seems to be my thing: Talk to people about the shit I deal with, without really telling too many details, yet offering enough to share an open interaction. If I can’t save myself maybe I can help them to help themselves.

As for my state: I’m not suicidal, I haven’t been for a very long time and I’m glad this seems to be done for good. But there is not much I see in the future, at least not for me. Henceforth the “You Exist For Nothing” leitmotiv Ultha uses.

Well, hopefully you see some “sense” in your current therapy (playing in honest and dedicated bands) for the future and give your audience some hope and understanding. But let’s come back to the topic of our interview: You said you started ULTHA because it was a consensus between you and Ultha’s original second guitar-player Jens. Unfortunately he had to quit the band due to personal reasons. You had another guitarist temporarily filling in before Ralf joined the band. I think everything started out as a couple of friends dedicated to music (in general) that had one similar vision. You knew Chris and Manuel from sharing stages with Planks and played with Andy in Curbeaters as well. So how do you think the current line-up of ULTHA still maintains the original spirit? Is the other Ralf just a “fill-in” or is he a complete member of the “inner-circle” as Jens was before?

Let me start this answer with a correction: Curbeaters was a project with Andy and two other members of his then existing band Blindspot a.d., as well as Geb of Black Shape Of Nexus and me. At least that was the plan. There were talks and exchanging of ideas, until it came to a single rehearsal weekend, where the three songs were tracked that came out this year, a mere 15 years later. I wasn’t able to make the rehearsal so technically I wasn’t part of the band. I was supposed to play bass, so Andy recorded those tracks. I ended up doing the vocals last year, because Andy started his Goblin Sound studio here in Cologne and he wanted to close this chapter. So yeah, technically Andy and I didn’t play in a band before. But as with Manu and Chris, we knew each other from shows and a message board. But we all come from the same background: We were all raised on metal but touched the DIY hardcore/punk scene and embraced its ethos, spirit and general ways of functioning independent without restrictions. We all set up shows for bands or helped in venues. We got to know tons of people over the years and that helped us immensely when we started Ultha.

Jens also comes from this background. I first met him in person when his grind band Kurushimu played with Planks in Koblenz. There was an instant chemistry and we bonded over the years. I have played in bands for 20+ years now and I never had a writing partner I could work with in ways as with him. I had an idea, played the riff, tried to explain what I thought would be a good second guitar – he then just shushed me and said “something like this?” and it was exactly what I thought or even better. I had a lot of good partners in music over the years, but none like Jens. I assume we could even start a 90ies dancefloor act and it would work. Also we get along on so many levels that he is one of the only people I call a real friend, someone I would trust with my life. It always hurts that we hardly find the time to hang out, it hurts even more not being able to continue this idea we founded together. But his reasons to leave Ultha were severe and out of his or our control.

I guess it must be really hard entering a band that his already at the stage Ultha was when Ralf joined. We were a clique and we have a very strange humor and the general chemistry is also special. So you’ve got to give cudos to someone daring to enter this vault and being able to cope with this. Ralf did it to the best of his abilities but recently we decided to let him go. It just didn’t pan out in the end.

Over the years in all major bands I played in there were personal shifts. That happens. Health or family always comes first and I mean now we’re all around 40 and work full time. Priorities change and therefore the availability to do a band to such extend. For me personally it’s always weird when the original line-up changes. It doesn’t mean that sometimes it’s less good. I had both positive and negative experiences when it came to this – nonetheless it just never felt like the “original” that started it all. Maybe here again the topic we addressed before comes into play: I’m a hopeless nostalgic and tend to romanticize memories.

Well, that is a point that you share with most metalheads: Beeing hopeless nostalgic and stuck in the past, haha! But I think that is quiet normal since everybody romanticizes his memories. I’ll get my records straight that you never played with Andy in a band before. But you do now and he is also the guy that records all the Ultha stuff. On one hand it makes things easier for you to track new ideas and get them ready to publish. But isn’t it a flaw on the other side as well? I mean it may be an advantage to have a person from the outside that brings his very own opinion into the sound of a band as well. This is at least my experience that a sound technician helps a band in the studio to work out on several parts as he was not involved in the song-writing and as his own, unbiased view on the greater all.

I guess you’re right about there being two sides to this, but then again it depends on the musician. See, I like to keep control of what my band sounds and also looks like. Often I feel like being too dominant in this role, but I still talk to the others, get feedback etc. But mostly I wish I could do everything by myself. I have a clear view and vision of how a record should look and sound like. Problem is, I don’t have skills in recording or with Photoshop. So I let other people do that, but it has to be a person I really trust. Also they need to know and prepare for what they sign up for. This meaning that I will tell them pretty straight forward what I want, which sometimes narrows down creative freedom for them. And let’s face it: all these people are artists themselves with their own creative vision and I’m the one to tell them what to do (sort of) – that’s exactly what I would never tolerate from others… unless, I have tremendous respect for them. And here is the point why we decided to only work with friends of the band. They know how I operate, how we as a band work, that they get what we want and are willing to accept this framework. But to be considered a friend of the band, you have to be honest, emphatic and daring at the same time, because only then a truly creative dialogue can start. If you look at the list of people we work with, you find people who know what our aim is, are willing to take all our ideas into consideration but dare to say “sorry, this won’t suit you, but how about this?”. We built our own little network Ultha microverse.

Andy is the best example when it comes to this. He recorded our debut, as we’ve known him for years. The chemistry was there and he was just a perfect fit, able to expand what we did with his ideas in the studio. That’s why we asked him to join the band eventually. Now he knows exactly how Ultha imagines and approaches both a song and records. We have long talks about references in sound and approaches to recording. But he is strong enough to differentiate between his role as musician in this band as well as studio engineer. At first it was tough for me to accept that he actually “dared” to say that I should change this or that in my sound. But then all the evolutionary steps in sound from the first LP to the now third album prove that he was absolutely right. In consequence he also learned to accept, that I have a pretty good idea about how this band should sound and he was willing to take two steps into my direction as well. In the end there is denominator which ends up being Ultha and therefore fairly unique in sound.

So why should I sacrifice that for some engineer on the outside? Sure, there might be people who’d deliver a great result, maybe even so good I would say I’m 100% cool with it. But it’s risky – and expensive. Andy is always learning, always expending his knowledge on recording and therefore we try out things. Now that he has his own studio we’re even more free to try things play with sound. So again, why sacrificing this chance? It’s pretty much everything we all could hope for.

It is no secret, you took your name from the short story “the cats of ulthar” by mighty Howard Phillips Lovecraft. You removed the letter “r” for both reasons not to get confused with other bands with the same name (or the label) and to have a symetrical name that fits into a logo. And it is no secret either that you do not play “lovecraftian” music. For me it is a pitty that today Lovecraft is reduced to Cthulhu. There are so many other aspects that form his dark and desperate stories. Take “The Outsider” for example. That could easily be transfered into a modern context, about self-perception and other philosophic views upon oneself. Do you think Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe had a major influence on you or did they just put your very own vision of this world into words you can identify with?

Well, we’re definitely not a “Lovecraftian” metal band. As much as I love his art, lyrics about cosmic evil and old gods are just not my thing. What very much is, is the feeling of an omnipresent thread, a lurking fear and a constant melancholia that define my every impression of life as it is. Dread and gloom; it’s this feeling that no matter how hard you try, the horror and drama will find you in the end and you will lose. With Lovecraft it’s this feeling that we are as humans are actually a joke, a sort of experiment which is being watched and assessed, just to be annihilated in the end. With Poe it’s his infinite strive for love, his almost maniacal appreciation of beauty and the resulting fear of failure and rejection. All these motives just reflect how I see my life after 38 years of stumbling and falling forward. That’s why my right arm has portraits of the two of them and a whole sleeve full of images inspired and dedicated to their work.

And you’re right, as cool as the whole figure Cthulhu is, there is so much more to Lovecraft’s universe. My favorite story will always be “The Rats In The Wall”, which again brings up the image of something that is larger than our mortal human life and that there are forces we can’t fathom – a typical Lovecraftian construction also to be found in the form of Cthulhu and other old gods.

To stay on topic about Lovecraft: He was a quite controversial person – at least if you look behind his stories about cosmic horror and get to know the person behind. Lovecraft was a racist and wannabe elite. I think his view on other races might result in the Zeitgeist of his era. And his elitist behavior is founded in his tragic family history. But nevertheless those aspects might be difficult nowadays. May we enjoy stories of a racist? Must we have a sophisticated understanding of his life, his social and contemporary environment? Or may we easily enjoy his fantastic stories ignoring the person behind?

This to me is the same debate I had a gazillion times about whether or not you can enjoy bands such as Burzum or Death In June (just as the two most well known and publicly discussed bands when it comes to topic). It’s the question if you can separate art from artist, which in the end is everybody’s decision to make. I really don’t want to engage in this topic anymore, because everything has been said and there will always be people disagreeing on this, which is perfectly fine with me. It’s just the atrocious way that both extremist sides try to convey their truth and view is the only view acceptable. What remains indebatable are two things: First, the importance of such controversial artists to the development of their respective genres and second, that racists and fascists are still the worst scum of the earth.

Okay, enough about politics. Let’s have a look onto another controversial topic: The scene. In the early days of black metal many bands floated over from death and thrash metal into the this new style as it became increasingly popular. For sure there were many hardliners who despised those bands. But nowadays they are widely accepted despite of their origin and background. For ULTHA I have the feeling that there are a lot of people liking your music, yet still do not consider your music “black metal”. Maybe because of your background in hardcore and grindcore bands. Or maybe because you take your influences from US-American black metal, which does not seem trve enough? And on the other hand there seem some purists from the hardcore-scene who do not appreciate your current band playing black metal. How do you see your perception from both scenes? Do you think you are treated special because of your development or origins? Especially in Germany?

To be perfectly honest: I don’t give a rats ass if people think we’re this or that. People who feel the urge to be scene police and judge can go and shove it. I used to care a lot for this, but I guess by this point in time I’m just too old to give a shit if someone sees me as true or phoney. Most people judging me or this band are 10-15 years younger and have no idea about my musical upbringing, about how much this music has had an effect on me for how long of a time. They judge me and Ultha for the way we look or what we say, that we have a political position but say that Ultha is and never will be political means of communication. The hardcore scene doesn’t give a shit about us, as they did for Planks or other bands we’ve been in, because we weren’t hardcore bands. But we had fans and friends in this scene. If we have to classify where we come from, I’d say the political DIY underground. And yes, a lot of people from our past in this scene judged us for going where they think no one with a left wing upbringing should go. But as stated before, these guys were mostly people behind their keyboard running their mouths, moralizing us through their very strict and narrow view on things and apply them to every scene, which is not the right way to do it.

Same goes for the so-called underground elite in Black Metal. I don’t care for trueness, as it’s a phony concept dictated by people with a narrow view of what is possible. I have no problem if they see things their way, but their judgement doesn’t affect me. When I was 13 in 1993 I was blessed to see enormous shifts in the musical landscape, shifts I only have rarely witnessed at a later point. Black Metal was happening and taking over, the Grunge wave became immense with authentic emotional rock music and in Rap music the Wu-Tang Clan brought a sinister dark vibe to a musical genre I mostly despised for being too “happy”. I absorbed all of this and was intoxicated by this feeling of “something truly great is happening here”. I absorbed tons of different bands and they changed my life.

Now, some 25years later I still feel that not much has had an effect on me like these years and I always return to these records. I’m certainly not true to any scene whatsoever as in being a purist, but I sure as hell am a nostalgic (we spoke about that before). I take influences from all these scenes and the hundred other records from different genres that massively impressed me for being something unique and authentic. I think Ultha takes patterns from different genres and uses it to write music conveying exactly the feeling we want to get across. So yes, there are moments where we sure as hell don’t sound like a Black Metal band, but it’s the overall vibe that counts for us. I only strive to express what I feel and this in a most authentic way.

All those bands right now that claim to be trve just copy what happened in Scandinavia or in Poland, blocking out all this great music happening all over the world. When the time has come you will be able to play our third record you will hear, it’s a heavy and complex (black) metal album, but the sound, the variety in songwriting etc. is not derived from listening to Mayhem or Drudkh. Not that I don’t like these bands, it’s just that The Cure, Christian Death, Alice In Chains, Depeche Mode or Nirvana had and have more influence on my songwriting than any metal band ever… aside from Weakling and Ash Borer maybe.

You might be a nostalgic person. For sure there are some reminiscences of classic black metal in the sound of ULTHA as well. But most notable are those references to the more “modern” interpretation of the genre from US-American bands like Weaklings, Wolves In The Throne Room or mainly Ash Borer - as you said by yourself. How did this movement with black metal influence your style?

When WITTR came out they just had this very authenticity I spoke about a lot in this interview. These guys were no fools jabbering about rituals and whatnot. They wrote fantastic songs with great riffs and a tremendous atmosphere. It all feels very gloomy, dramatic and real. And Weakling were their forefathers as Ash Borer are their ancestors. All these three bands mean the world to me. Especially Weakling. This one record is just everything black metal to me should sound like. It takes the classic approach and enhances it with something very gritty, very urging a lot of Norwegians lacked. Also, especially Ash Borer in their earlier days, or Fell Voices, used the repetitive approach for their songwriting, which just resonated so well with me. I love to get lost in a song and just feel my brain wandering off. That’s what a few of these USBM had to offer, in-between an ocean of mediocre copycat bands as you find in every country.

As US black metal established as a very own interpretation of this extreme music, there are other interesting movements as well. Maybe the kinda hyped Nidrosian wave, the recent Icelandic invasion or the unique French approach. What do you think about those trends and developments?

The only one I partly care for are the French. Island and the Nidrosian scene all play very well, but are very traditional in my opinion. There is not a lot that resonates with me. Of course, it’s always posh to speak about a scene as a whole, as there are so many people and bands involved. But most of the popular bands from these two scenes to me sound like stuff that was already done in the late 90s when this scene was completely watered-down. But for example the Icelandic Wormlust offshoot Ljáin released two tapes that blew my mind.

The French have Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, two of the strongest vessels in this genre. Especially the Memoria Vetusta trilogy by Blut Aus Nord are among the best records I have ever heard in this particular style of music.

I totally agree at this point. Blut Aus Nord’s “Memoria Vetusta” is an incredible awesome cycle. But I also like the more abstract work on the “777” albums as well. An beside Deathspell Omega I might also mention the baneful Aosoth or the psychedelic Way To End. But this is not the point of this interview. So let’s continue with ULTHA. For me it sounds like you had a clear vision of your sound and message you want to create and deliver. Was this the reason you never released a demo before your first album “Pain Cleanses Every Doubt” came out? Or to be more concrete: You just published some rehearsal recordings on Soundcloud, but didn’t release them on a physical format.

Sound no, message kind of. But then again, I don’t think Ultha has a message or agenda in itself. When Jens and I started writing riffs we just tried stuff out and kept what felt right. There were a lot of different types of riffs which sometimes didn’t really suit our feeling, so we neglected them. The first four songs on the debut just felt right to us, but from my point of view nowadays, they are not a real unit, unlike Converging Sins is or the new record will be, which has just been recorded. We’ve definitely grown as a band and derived our own style by now, or at least what feels most natural to us. It was the same with Planks: The first record is kind of different in its overall feeling and sound from the rest of the back catalog.

As far as the demo goes: We wanted to release a demo. But all that took so long that we ended up just putting out the two rehearsal demos on CD for our first shows. The recording for the debut took place shortly after, so it made a proper demo release obsolete – even though I hate it that we didn’t pull through.

As far as I remember, you told on on of your very first shows that Tartarus Records were supposed to publish your demo on tape. But this never happened. Was there any special reason about it? Or did you want to focus the attention on “Pain Cleanses Every Doubt” at this point already?

See my answer above. It was two labels involved but it just took forever, so at some point we just skipped the idea.

Two labels should have released your demo? Although it might be interesting to hear which was the other one I think it is quite irrelevant nowadays. So let’s go one step further: Your debut was initially released by Matt and Ecocentric Records. Since he already released the splits by Atka, the former band of your drummer, and the “Left Us As Ghosts” compilation, it seems to be a logical continuation of your cooperation. Did you ask Matt to publish “Pain Cleanses Every Doubt” or did he ask you when he heard of your new project?

Well, Pain Cleanses Every Doubt was actually released by total of four labels! We had Vendetta for vinyl, Tartarus for the tape edition and Eccocentric Records teaming up with Wolfbiker Records to handle the CD. Later it was even released by Translation Loss in the US. So this makes five labels. See, all people behind these labels, aside from TL, are long time friends of ours: Stefan of Vendetta I’ve known for years and I always wanted to work with him. Since vinyl was our first priority I spoke to him first. After that, in my hierarchy are tapes and of course my go-to guy is Richard from Tartarus. He released stuff for Planks as well and he is one of my best friends. Then we thought about the CD version, if we needed one at all. But since the market for metal clearly has a demand for CDs we said we’d go for it. Matt of Eccocentric not only worked with my old band before, but also with Manu’s old band Atka. Also he actually has a harsh noise/drone project together with Manu called XQM. So again a no-brainer to ask him. He released other CDs before in cooperation with Wolfbiker Records, which is run by Arif, and who again has been a long time friend of mine and Manu. And that’s kind of the spirit we kept up to this point, to keep working together with people we know and admire on a personal level, as long as we can. It has something immensely satisfying to it, if you create art and all people involved with this art being presented and made available are people you have close ties with. I assume that’s the kind of philosophy we derived from our years in the DIY metal/punk community, where personal bonds always outlast business relations.

That makes totally sense. But your second album was published by Stefan of Vendetta in both formats, CD and LP. Was Matt / Ecocentric not interested anymore? Although he recently published a repress of your first album?

I’m sure he was, but he only randomly does vinyl. And we thought that Stefan has more experience with distributing a record to a broader audience. Also he just really struck a nerve with me and he’s a real friend now.

For me Vendetta made an interesting development. I got in touch with them during the neo-crust hype, but they delivered awesome stuff from hardcore and grindcore as well. In recent time they shifted more and more towards black metal. With both of you starting in a diy/hardcore environment, developing into black metal, it seems to be a good home for ULTHA as Vendetta participates from your growing popularity as well.

As with a bunch of smaller DIY labels Stefan changed what he released over the years. But if you continue to put out the same bands all the time, it’s likely to get stale. Sometimes I do have a problem with such development in labels, as it is comparable to what I said about some trend hopping bands from Germany. And boy, do we have some of those labels as well. Horrible. But even in times where he put out Alpinist or other crust stuff, he released crushing doom records and he put out the Ash Borer demo as well as a Fell Voices record years before these bands got attention from the German underground. So if black metal is what he digs most at the moment, it’s cool with me. Stefan is the most authentic guy I know. I mean, he’s a grown man… almost a senior… and he always listened to metal and all other kinds of things, so if anybody calls him a trend hipster it’s just blatantly stupid. I kind of do hope he falls for his Anne Clark worship and starts releasing bands in this style.

He and us share a mindset and that is what made it super special when he said he wants to put out Ultha in the first place. When we found out he works as precise and reliable as we do, it made a perfect match. I’m really glad this thing with Ultha grew to such extend that, in returning the favor, Vendetta got more exposure through us. It doesn’t matter that we changed label now, he will always be our brother, who is the most amazing person and who operates with a 110% passion.

You switched to another label? May I ask where’s your new home? I think there was some serious interest from more trve metal label…

There actually was and by the time this interview will be out it will be official that we will be working with Century Media Records in the future for full-length records. This doesn’t mean we are done with Vendetta. Not at all. Stefan is still our brother! We will always support him and his label as well as work with him to some extend. There just were some interesting perspectives in working with a label of this level. But the people behind CM who approached us and work with us now really fit our picture of people we trust, even though there is a business aspect to it now. Nonetheless this all wouldn’t have happened if not for the massive support from Stefan throughout the whole time Ultha has been around.

First of all congratulations on your new deal with Century Media. But what do you mean that your cooperation with Stefan isn’t over yet? Are you going to publish split-releases and singles via Vendetta while Century Media has focus on full-length albums?

Thanks. I can’t say much about the form this may have yet, but we would never completely cut ties with Stefan. That was one major aspect when we spoke about a deal with Century Media and they respected our wishes.

Ultha grew in terms of popularity but as well in terms of song-writing. We already talked about approaches of writing pop-songs in a black metal context. But usually popular music fits into a 3:30 radio-play edit. Ultha on the other hand exceeded this mark on their first album already, constantly extending the running time of your songs. On “Converging Sins” there were two songs exceeding 16 Minutes mark and “The Seventh Sorrow” from your split with Paramnesia runs for over 18 Minutes. But although there are many repetitive and minimalist elements in your music, you still keep those long tracks interesting and exciting. Why do you think the length of your songs grew over the time? Do you think that doom bands like Switchblade or Kongh influenced you in this aspect?

See, and this is exactly what I mean when I say we write pop-songs: It’s the effect that you dive into the song, drown in its atmosphere, feel like you get the idea and want to hear it until the end – our songs are just way longer. We operate with bringing back parts and melodies, like pop bands do in a chorus; we have melodies that appear again and again throughout a song, sometimes straight, sometimes in variations. It just keeps you focused and is like a red chord guiding you through the piece. Paramnesia write songs in about the same lengths as we do, but their approach is totally different: they keep adding different riffs with similar vibes, thus creating more like a river, where our songs are a more like a Maelstrom, pulling you in. In both cases the idea is to get the audience in a mood, a journey in their mind. Switchblade, at their peak, were way more stubborn and bleak – Kongh never appealed to me. For me it’s more like listening to the Cocteau Twins or early Fields Of The Nephilim, but played in a voice Emperor and Neurosis gave me.

Those long running times may give you more space to develop the atmosphere of a song, to tell your story with your instrumentation. But don’t you think that such long tracks might be a challenge for your audience? Especially as you used the almost 18 minutes long “The Night Took Her Right Before My Eyes” as opener for your last album. And it might become a challenge for you as well, trying to fit into a usual time slot of a regular concert.

I mean, we used to open with The Night… and there was never a complaint. But yes, it really narrows down what we can do live. We all feel, no set should last longer than 40-50 minutes, but when we play three songs (what we are doing right now) we are close to the 50 minute mark. This is a problem when it comes to festivals, as they mostly do 30 or 45 minute slots. But then again they mostly get our approach and appreciate art, so they let us do our full 50 minute set. A bigger problem is when we have to decide to play a new song, one of the songs people know is going to drop. And I seriously feel people will crucify us if we stop playing “Fear Lights The Path…” live. I know at least one person who would.

In another interview you said: “Stagnation is death – but we’re also not big fans of totally abandoning your initial sound. So for us it’s rather a steady shift and natural progress, where other bands decide to go the extra mile very fast.” I think that can be applied as well on changes in your playlist as well as your progression over your releases so far. But what does that mean for your next album? As far as I know all material is already written? So what can we expect of your third album? What is the steady shift this time?

Yes, it’s written and also recorded. We just need to put some finishing touches to it. It will be mastered soon and then goes to the pressing plant. We aim at a release early October, right in time for our tour.

What you can expect from Ultha is an Ultha record: We have fast parts, we have slow parts, two singers, keys, different approaches to this music and in the end a record which should be for people who liked the first two records as well. Yes, there are certainly things on there we haven’t done before but there are also a lot of things people will call typical for this band. It’s another concept album connected to Converging Sins in its narrative.

With “Mirrors In A Black Room” you (Ultha) continued a habit that PLANKS already established: Creating incredible duets. PLANKS started early with “Forgiveness To Tyrants” and ended their history with the intense “She Is Alone”. “Mirrors In A Black Room” is the perfect development for me. It is gloomier, more fatalistic. And Rachel from ESBEN AND THE WITCH was a perfect choice for this song. Did you already have her in mind while writing this track?

I mean, Ultha in general is a constant duet between Chris and me. But the idea for “Mirrors…” or “She Is Alone” was born just out of the love for female voices and my inability to sing well. There are so many classic duets between a female and a male singer I love, such as “Where The Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave and Kylie Minouge. Also Tiamat, a band I was into a lot, had female voices contributing to the atmosphere of the records. In general the amount of incredible female vocalists in my musical biography is high.

To have Leonie sing “She Is Alone” was something special for me, because I love her voice and she is a fantastic human being. But Rachel is something else. I said that in interviews before, but for me Rachel is the best female singer & lyricist in one person. Surely there are people who might be even better in terms of vocal range etc, but it’s Rachel’s way to sing, the intonation, the emotion behind it and also the lyrics she writes that touched me from the first time I heard “Marching Song” many years ago. It was by chance that I met her and the others in Esben at Doom Over Leipzig some years ago. We chatted, I threw in the idea, sent her demos, she liked it, sang and I was so unbelievably flattered and happy she did it. It was surreal to hear her sing my song and even more so to play the song live with her. Now she is a friend and I value her a lot. She is one of the finest human beings I ever met through music.

But I may not forget about the awesome contribution of Joseph E. Martinez to “Scythe Imposer”. As far as I know the only male duet you have done yet? On “The Seventh Sorrow” you contributed some clean vocals by yourself… So no need for an external male singer anymore?

That is correct. No other male duet… yet. But that was insane, too. Junius were close friends of mine and I helped them out with a lot of stuff over here. Their “The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist” record changed my perception of how heavy music can be so much more. When they asked me how they could repay me, I said, I would love to have Joe sing on a song of Planks. He agreed and made this song 100 times better.

Yes, I try to “sing” a bit more these days, but in comparison to people like Joe it’s a joke. But it works for what it is. It’s more of a means to an end, when it comes to get a feeling across. It worked well for “The Seventh Sorrow” and you will find a comparable part on the new album. But on the new album you will also hear vocals I haven’t done before. We were all a bit skeptical at the beginning, but now we’re happy with the result.

To make this interview going full circle: PLANKS had some great concepts. The triology of your last records or the visual aesthetics with your symbols like anchor and triangle. As ULTHA has an overall concept as well, do you think that there will be a story told over several albums as well? With your sigil for “you exist for nothing” you already made a start.…

Very much yes. Every part of an album has an idea behind it. Lyrics, music and artwork flow together with the concept. And as with the Planks trilogy there is also a connection between the three Ultha records. But I think this time it’s more like a river flowing from one record to the next. Once you hold the new record in hand and are willing to look for clues, you will find the connection. And the idea for the fourth album is already in my head, which would then tie up the flow. We will see if and when this might happen.

Ralph, I know that you never were a fan of giving interviews and hoped that this topic ended with the end of PLANKS as well. So again, it was an honor for me to have you answering my long, annoying and detailed questions. Thank you very much! Take the following void and fill it with your final words for this interview….

Well, I’m not opposed to giving interviews, I just hate answering the same old questions over and over again. You put a lot of thought and work into these questions, also daring to ask challenging and uncomfortable questions. I appreciate this, as I put equally as much thought and work into my music and like if people really look deeper into what my bands do, the words I choose and to give it a context and interpretation of their own. So it felt suitable to do such a long running and in-depth interview. Thanks for your patience and I hope you and the people who read all of this thing here will like the new record.

~Fin~

As this talk was done over the period of over a year, there were two questions that had a temporal reference. But in the end those topics did not seem to fit into the finished interview. For those who are interested, I keep them for the sake of completeness.

You recently completed your euro-tour with Yellow Eyes (26.10.-04.11.2017). When I visited the first show of the tour in Cologne, you told me that this trip didn’t start well for your mates from the US. I hope the rest of the tour went better. Would you mind sharing some impressions of your journey?

It was among the best things I’ve ever been part of since I started playing in bands. I guess, I would’ve said the same thing about the tour with Woe in April, but all the shit that went down got the better of me and it will always be a stained memory. This tour with Yellow Eyes has been incredible on so many levels. The general idea of touring with them already gave me all sorts of chills, as they are among the most important bands I’ve ever encountered in this genre, having a completely unique approach to what they are doing, speaking directly to me through every note and every chord. On the road we quickly learned that it’s also a perfect match on a personal level. I only rarely had such good and deep talks about music, philosophy, life and approaches to art as I had with these boys. The shows were generally great and well attended and it was just an overall great journey. As much as we had a bumpy start to the tour in April, Yellow Eyes tried to out-disaster us, but they pretty much did. Will, one of the two guitar players and also vocalist cut off the tip of his left trigger finger, making it almost impossible to do a proper chord on the guitar. Also the way he plays includes a lot of movement with this very finger, so that was naturally a shitshow. He had plastic fingertip to put on top which only barely made it possible to play. But he is a soldier and pulled through. They flew from NYC to Lisbon and from there to Cologne. Since the initial flight was delayed they missed the connecting flight. Instead of 5pm they arrived sometime around 11pm, a time almost no one still worked at the tiny Cologne airport. This turned into an extra interesting challenge, since the airline lost the three guitars. It took about 250 phonecalls (and I hate speaking on the phone) until they showed up at 5pm the next day, only hours before the first show. So it was stressful, to say the least. Also the customs fucked up, making us leave for tour without any vinyl or CD of the brand new record they were touring in support of. Crazy times, man. A lot of hair lost, fantastic new friends found.

As the end of 2017 was very eventful for you, I totally forgot to ask about your Unholy Passion Fest in the end of that particular year. As a visitor it was a total blast for me. The selected Bands (Unru, Morast, Esben And The Witch and of course Ultha) were fantastic and the crowd was great as well. I would assume that there were about 500 to 600 guests? How was this fest for the end of 2017 for you as promoter and band?

Eventful is putting it mildly. December and January were two of the most stressful months I ever had. But I have almost only good feelings about that show, except maybe the sound issues. There were around 450 people. That’s the maximum capacity the venue holds. So yes, we sold out one of the best and most established clubs in Cologne – a good feeling. I guess, it was primarily due to the combination of acts and the level Esben And The Witch has, but still. We invited only bands we’re friends with and even more friends and longtime supporters came out and showed some love. We had people that came because they could see EATW for a price smaller than they usually charge in this city and stayed to see three metal bands playing. On the other hand a lot of die-hard metal fans stood in awe with a dropped jaw when Esben played. That was the best feeling. We aligned all these bands, because we operate from the same mindset, even though the music is very different. So, it was exactly what I spoke about earlier in this interview: Fuck narrow-mindedness and embrace pluralism and authenticity. There will be a next edition this December and we’re already working on it.


Further Reading

Credits
Pictures of Ralph were provided by himself. The promotional picture of the band is credited to Deathless Pictures. The cover artworks were taken from the bands’ official bandcamp-profile. The YEFN-Sigil was taken from the facebook page of the band.