I’ve always been interested in the dynamic of bands with siblings in the line-up. How those who shared so much of their entire lives come together creatively, the bond they have, how they work together, how things are managed when non-relatives are brought into the picture and so on and so forth. KEN Mode, Valkyrie, Gojira, Skeletonwitch, Obituary, Sepultura, Oasis, Heart…the list goes on and on. Now, you can add Colorado black metal entity, Helleborus to the list. Featuring brothers Jerred (all instruments) and Wyatt (vocals and lyrics) Houseman, Helleborus is a black metal band in the tradition of Satyricon, Septic Flesh and Dark Fortress that is set to issue its debut full-length, The Carnal Sabbath later this year. As well, a live line-up has been fleshed out (with drummer Brent Boutte, guitarist Ian Horenman and bassist Michael Hylands joining the bros) and the band is coming off its first handful of live performances including having shared the stage with Cannibal Corpse, Cattle Decapitation and Soreption last week in Colorado Springs.
The Houseman brothers’ musical history indubitably goes a lot further back than we can reasonably assume or discuss in this space, but for the sake of space and relevancy, the pair used to be members of now-Texas-based brutal death metal combo, Execration and also have another band running concurrently alongside Helleborus called Akhenaten which is described as “black/death metal with Middle Eastern folk influences.” Below, we present an introductory interview with vocalist Wyatt and a stream of a track entitled “Colored Spores of Yuggoth” and the accompanying artwork.
Can you give us a bit of band history to start off with?
The project right now is so new, thus we don't have much of a history. We've only released a couple of singles and performed a grip of shows. As soon as the artwork is finished we intend to release our debut album and tour. Both personally and professionally we had been moving away from Execration into new realms and exploring new possibilities. Though Execration and black metal as a whole expresses our roots, it does not encompass all the possibilities of our journey.
Did you and your brother always share an interest in not just music, but the specific genre of black metal that would bring you together creatively?
We identify both musically and spiritually with black metal because of its pioneering and exploratory nature. That said, to pioneer is to experiment, attempt and explore unknown places. Jerred and I have always explored these things together and shared the adventure. Our interest in music in general came at a very young age and spans many genres of music, which is more apparent in Helleborus than in our previous work.
Have you always been in bands together as a sibling duo? How has that worked for both you, but also for the other members of the band? Is it something that you’re constantly having to refine and work at, not only your own familial and musical relationship, but also integrating others and not having them feel like outsiders?
Yes, our entire musical career has been a shared venture so far and we prefer it this way. We rarely ever run into creative differences and rarely do we have any issues with our musical associates. Although none of our previous projects were exclusively of our creation, our work is a labor of passion and we enjoy sharing that passion with like minded individuals.
What does the band’s name refer to?
Helleborus is named after the Helleborus Niger, a unique flower that blooms in winter which is native to the area of Colorado we are from. Its name is derived from ancient Greek "the plant of fauns", but we found it fascinating that there is a beautiful flower blooming in winter when everything else around it appears dead. It appears as a spot color in an otherwise barren landscape, and yet the flower itself is deadly. Like male and female, we felt this type of duality perfectly captured the essence of this project.
A quote in your bio describes the band as “Dionysian” and says your themes are often focused on “the Qabalah and sexual mysticism.” Discuss.
Though these titles describe how we approach our craft in the studio, before the altar and in daily life, we believe the music as a whole more accurately expresses these philosophies and teachings because it is difficult to encompass an experience with only a few words. We are perhaps not a conventional black metal project in that our magic led us to explore not only death, but what is beyond at the luminal edge of experience, outside the confines of western religion. We explore elements of the Qabalah, Kundalini and their connections with sexual mysticism. It could be said that Helleborus is heavily influenced by the Orphic Mysteries, but is still Dionysian in nature.
What does the title The Carnal Sabbath refer to?
Sabbath is of course a religious observance of any kind, yet it also implies Saturn as the final sphere of experience in ancient cosmology. This is the impression of the edge of the experience of mortality often mentioned in tantra and other well-known Western explorations of sex magick. The carnal abandon is what frees the ego to experience the Divine Liberation with what is sometimes ironically called in French "the little death” (i.e. sex). This is the manifestation of Dionysus as teacher and liberator in that sex is much more than the joining of a man and woman; it is a conjunction between them both and the Divine itself.
What can you tell us about how the upcoming album was created in regard to writing and recording?
The muse in us wasn't satisfied so we started exploring new sounds and directions in 2013. The recording and production of the album was all handled by Jerred. We have a home studio and we write separate and come together when we feel we have something to offer one another. Jerred writes the music and I the lyrics. We were never really sure where we were going with it until we wrote the first three tracks.
The track we’re running is called “Colored Spores of Yuggoth.” What info can you share about this particular song and the accompanying artwork?
“Colored Spores…” is definitely one of our favorites. The lyrics express the receiving of a magickal gift from the Divine. There are elements of duality with Lovecraftian influences derived from personal magickal experiences. This is the cover art for “The Carnal Sabbath,” painted by S. of Khaos Diktator Design (a.k.a. Atterigner of Triumfall/ Gorgoroth). He is currently painting a few more pieces for the album to reflect particular tracks. The cover beautifully depicts a physical manifestation of themes described throughout the album. The archway portal is engraved with a demotic spell to "bring forth" the Divine, but in the sense of "pregnant potential.” While this particular theme may not reflect anything in this album, it is an expression of the project as a whole and an omen of things to come.
What does Helleborus have upcoming that you can inform us about? What do your future band-related plans involve? Are you both done with Execration for the foreseeable future?
We are expecting to have the album out early next year and we definitely plan to tour in 2016. Helleborus took on a life of its own and swept us with it, so we are not currently with Execration. Where it is taking us we are not sure, but we have been inspired to constantly write new music which may also develop into other side projects.
The Carnal Sabbath is set for early 2016 release and will include the following:
1. Helleborus Black
3. Edge of Black Waters
4. Colored Spores of Yuggoth
5. Draconian Discipline
6. The Poison of Sleep
7. Temple of Seventh Death
8. Gift of Renewal
9. The Carnal Sabbath