Anti-matter is granted a rare interview with Amon of US Black Metal stalwarts Hellgoat.
PH: So after several attempts at this we’re finally ready to give it another go. But before that I feel the need to orient the uninitiated by asking a very basic question; How long ago did you form Hellgoat, who were the other original members and what was the purpose for birthing the project?
Amon: Hellgoat first started as a concept more than a band. I was the sole member in the beginning and started this journey from a desire to express myself without limitations. This act of liberation would occur 11 years ago in 2004.
PH: What was the initial concept? Is the band a spiritual expression of yourself?
Amon: The initial idea was to create an extreme Satanic black metal band with the more intense sound of American Death metal. The lyrics are a spiritual expression that describe our journey in this life and our connection to forces beyond this world. Some parts are literal others are allegory.
PH: I can say with authority that the intense sound is most certainly a terror to behold during live performances as well. When performing live, what, if anything, is it that you hope the audience takes away?
Amon: The audience has a secondary role. We do what we do for ourselves. The music opens a doorway for us to connect to higher forces. If the audience is willing to let go in that moment they can transform as well, however if they don’t respond it doesn’t effect us.
PH: I know in the past we’ve talked at length about venues being difficult to work with and promoters using “bait and switch,” tactics, telling you that certain things are fine to take onstage and others are not, often at the last minute. Since you generally tour with an entourage of oddities, curios and things no longer among the living. I’m curious to know how and why you chose to incorporate them into the live set?
Amon: In the simplest terms I’d call it intuition. We find things as we travel, some stuff is gifted to us, some things we build and other items are artifacts from our past that still serve us. Everything is part of building our temple and projecting the energy of Hellgoat. The macabre nature of our show makes many professionals nervous. They always say they want it until it’s in front of them.
PH: The latest studio offering, “Infernal Zeal” will soon be upon us. The release has been plagued by one delay after another and a particular event that seemed catastrophic at first but ended up working out to the band’s benefit. Would you elaborate a bit on the process of the album’s creation?
Amon: We were writing the album in 2012, since then we’ve been plagued with personal struggle, member changes and label problems. Fortunately a few close friends have stepped up to ensure the album manifests. I am grateful to Pale Horse Recordings for this. We also lost a large portion of the lyrics and were forced to rewrite most of the songs. In the end it all worked out and I couldn’t be happier with the album.
PH: Does the record serve as a vehicle for a more direct concept or is it more of an amalgam of different ideas?
PH: We live in a strange time where bombings, killings, the obliteration of entire cities and even cultural relics seem like an almost every day thing. Acts of barbarism and extremism are the norm. I’m curious to know if these events have impacted or inspired any of the lyrics in Hellgoat’s music.
Amon: Not as much as you’d expect. Destruction is an aspect of Satan, however, we more refer to ourselves and the universe within.
PH: The concepts of Death and mortality have played an integral role not just in this art form, but since the beginning of music itself. Is this a tradition that you feel is appropriately reflected in your work?
Amon: Death is a major influence on us. The idea of transitioning from being to not being holds some power. We are inspired by exploring this idea on many different levels, but we are not bound to it exclusively.
PH: Extreme metal has been a breeding ground for exploration and expansion of metaphysical and philosophical ideas. Do you have any personal thoughts as to why this is the case? In some ways it almost seems that the LSD spirited movements of the 60s and 70s have shifted bodies and moved over to something far more extreme. Something that could never have been predicted.
Amon: The main connection you see between the two is the idea of going against the grain. To challenge what is commonly accepted and forge an individual path. This to us is the path of great art. We are not concerned with ripoffs or trends.
PH: Which is another interesting point, because the parade of charlatans and snake oil salesman seems to be in full swing. Are there any artists in particular that you pay attention to, be they past, present, or future?
Amon: There have always been a great number of new and old artists that have walked the path and abused the true meaning of this art form. Those who know, know.
PH: If there’s one thing in the world that you could accomplish or convey with Hellgoat, what would it be?
Amon: There isn’t one main goal in mind on the journey of Hellgoat. With this band we have been able to explore this world as well as ourselves without the filters of society holding us back. Each stage offers us something new in this regard.
PH: Infernal Zeal seams to captivate the intensity of Hellgoat’s live performance a bit more than the previous records I think. Was this an intentional move or a natural progression given the rigorous live schedule?
Amon: Playing live has certainly sharpened our approach to capturing our music and our energy. We try each time to capture that energy when we record. This is a work in progress.
PH: When you step onstage are there any particular thoughts that enter your mind. What are your primary focal points?
Amon: It takes a lot of time and preparation for a Hellgoat show. It involves all of the more mundane aspects of being in a band (setting up gear, tuning instruments, ect) but also setting up our stage and mindset. As for focal points, it’s more of a meditative state than a conscious thought. The idea is to step outside yourself and become a conduit for Satanic energy.