Sacred Son started off by making waves in the metal community for all the wrong reasons. I won’t bore you, once again, with the details but suffice it to say that there are people out there, especially in the circles of black metal, that are more conservative than the most conservative people they claim to be fighting against. In any case, the project soon became known for something else, and more relevant: making excellent black metal, atmospheric, ambient, or otherwise.
Now, Sacred Son are gearing up for another huge step up in their career by releasing their new album, The Foul Deth of Engelond, today, May 13th. To celebrate the occasion, we decided to exchange a few words with Dane, the beating heart of the project. It’s an especially good opportunity to do, since the new album reflects a change in content, aesthetics, and a further progression of the band’s sound. It’s also bloody excellent. Read on down below for thoughts on politics, album cover art (yes), production, and more! Oh, and don’t forgot to listen to, and then buy, Sacred Son’s new album!
Happy Beltane (or approximately, depending on when you read it) Sacred Son! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. First off, catch me up with all the Sacred Son happenings and lore; how has the project evolved since Arthurian Catacombs? Would it be fair you to say you are now more of a band rather than a one man spear-headed project?
And a happy Cétshamhain to you too! Well, like every band we were a bit hamstrung by what we could do over 2020 and much of 2021. With the studios closed and no eminent possibility of playing together as a band, I took the opportunity to do something I’d been wanting to do for a while and composed the 50 minute ambient piece Levania.
Soon after that I started writing The Foul Deth of Engelond, and when lockdown restrictions temporarily lifted at the end of 2020 we seized the opportunity and went to the studio (Holy Mountain in London) to record.
As with Arthurian, the process of writing the album began with me building the foundations before passing it around the band; gradually becoming more of a collaborative piece as each member contributed their own ideas.
Let’s get the elephant out of the room first: your upcoming release, The Foul Deth of Engelond, is Sacred Son’s first album which features what some might call “traditional” album art. What made you change the artistic direction for this one?
Unlike our previous work, there is a very rigid historical concept driving this album which I think the artist Mitchell Nolte has captured beautifully in his painting.
Speaking of the upcoming album, you seem to take a much more solid political stance with this one. Do you define yourselves as leftists? Do you think of this record as an RABM (Red and Anarchist Black Metal)?
While I’m hesitant to speak on behalf of the band when it comes to their individual political beliefs, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t mind me saying that we are a left wing band.
Our previous records were generally apolitical, but over time my loathing for this country’s government and the right in general has boiled over into my songwriting, culminating in an album centred around corrupt leading figures being forced to answer to the chopping block.
Staying on that course, are you influenced by other artists in the RABM scene? Dawn Ray’d comes to mind musically while Ayloss from Mystras and Spectral Lore has also used the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt as a background for a track in the past.
I think a band’s political persuasions and the music they create aren’t necessarily relevant to one another – you can espouse a radical anarchist rhetoric through minimalist black metal or through dungeon synth. It’s a message that permeates through many different genres.
As with Arthurian, I wrote the album completely unaware that the concept was already well-trodden ground in black metal. I suppose it’s to be expected though; the Great Rising is an early example of working class resistance which leftists will naturally gravitate towards.
English history is something most often associated with the conservative, and even the downright fascist, elements of British society. Are you purposefully using English history, certainly replete with radical elements, to resist that association?
I guess it’s the same for any country with a large nationalist demographic. They’re very protective of their history and national identity, and feel threatened and fearful of what they perceive to be ‘outsiders’ – a fear that is encouraged by conservatives and far right types who thrive on xenophobia and jingoism.
There’s a song by the (sadly now defunct) band Humanfly called ‘English and Proud and Stupid and Racist’ which I think sums up our nation’s sense of misguided patriotism perfectly.
That said, I think despite English patriotism being largely co-opted by the far right, we mustn’t forget the many working class struggles throughout our history that have been fought in the name of social justice – the English Civil War, Chartism, Women’s Suffrage, the 19th century rise of trade unionism, etc.
If I can make a suggestion (being a scholar of English history myself), I think a black metal album about the English Civil Wars would be great. Any chance you’ll take up that mantle in the future?
Writing this album was very fulfilling for me personally, as it provided me the opportunity to learn about a whole chapter of English history that I previously had very little knowledge of.
I’m not sure what historical events our future albums will be centred around, if any at all. I never purposefully set out to write an album about the Peasants Revolt – rather I started reading about it and quickly realised that it would make good source material for a metal album.
What changed musically on The Foul Deth of Engelond? The albums sounds even more expansive and atmospheric than previous releases. Is this due to the production and mix or does it go back further to how you composed the music?
I’m pleased you think that, thank you! It’s a relatively simple answer but I think it’s largely down to additional instrumentation that wasn’t present on our previous albums. Having dabbled with synths on Arthurian and Levania I decided to make more use of it, resulting in a more symphonic black metal sound.
We also had Ukrainian musicians Artem Litovchenko and Tetiana Franchenko (both currently safe, thankfully) contribute cello and piano parts respectively, which I think gives the record a more expansive and cinematic lustre than our previous works.
Finally, what does the future hold for Sacred Son? If we think of The Foul Deth of Engelond as a watershed moment for the band, are your ambitions for the band sated or is there more you want to achieve and accomplish (like a tour, bigger releases, collaborations, etc.)?
I enjoyed the departure from black metal when I wrote Levania, so it’s entirely possible that our next album will be a non-metal affair. Whether or not I have achieved it yet remains to be seen, but my goal with Foul Deth was to harness the power of metal to remind a disenfranchised population what can happen when we mobilise against a ruling elite who act against our interests.
Thank you for your time and ‘DEATH! To the sycophants!’