BLACK FRIDAY: DEVOURING STAR Talks Singularity, Sin, and The Arteries of Heresy
Devouring Star is a black hole, both in namesake and in sonic force. The solo endeavor of the veiled JL has been releasing music under this moniker since 2013. After an early demo, his project took off with Through Lung and Heart, Devouring Star's first full-length album. From there, a series of splits and an EP saw the band continue to draw the attention from flocks of underground metal fans—a partnership with extreme metal aficionado, Dark Descent Records, certainly helped too.
Each effort is quite different than the last and that is attributed to JL's almost inverted musical approach. Where many bands write their music then build a lyrical concept or narrative around it, Devouring Star does the opposite. JL finds source material either through his previous works or through subject matter that he extensively studies. In the case of his newest album, The Arteries of Heresy, he delves into the idea of universal singularity and derides the Christian faith by applying that singularity to its doctrines.
The subsequent music mirrors this notion magnificently. Across five tracks, The Arteries of Heresy pulls listeners deeper into it's expansive, blackened depths. It forces them to revel in sin and perdition. Take "Sin Assimilation" or the phenomenal album closer, "Her Divine Arteries," for instance. Their suffocating barrage of blast beats and blistering tremolo riffs seemingly tether one to humanity's heresy. Overall, the album is a darkly riveting array of black metal. JL's eloquence in the subject matter is only rivaled by his compositions.
I talked to him about his project and the ideologies behind the album, read our conversation below. Also, pre-order a copy of The Arteries of Heresy from Dark Descent Records (US) and Terratur Possessions (EU) now. Follow Devouring Star on Facebook. Listen to pre-released tracks at the conclusion of the interview.
Metal Injection: You're the driving creative force behind Devouring Star–its only member–and from what I understand this is your only project. It began a number of years ago as this fully-formed musical vision you had. Where did the desire to create music as Devouring Star originate?
JL: I wouldn't say I am the only member of Devouring Star, the drummer has become an essential part of the project, but Devouring Star wouldn't exist without me. The desire to create Devouring Star was to have a creative vessel for my personal perspectives, I had the need to do it and here we are.
Metal Injection: I have to imagine being in such a musically rich environment like Finland has also had some impact on you and your desire to create music. How much of a role does being immersed in Finnish metal play? Were there any friends or individuals who pushed you to play music?
JL: No, I can't really say that Devouring Star was influenced by friends or the Finnish "metal" environment. All and all the consensus is Devouring Star was created for personal reasons to act as a creative vessel. Music was the only output I knew. I had never released anything before and I was in no way attached to a scene.
And personally, to me, creativity is something that gets banal if it has no idea behind it. I wouldn't put out anything just for fun. It would be like a painting with no idea behind it. Which reduces it to a canvas with paint on it.
Metal Injection: You make an excellent point there. It loses its luster if there is no meaning to what you make. I think your creative approach to Devouring Star is one of my favorite things about the project. In the interview you did with Bardo Methodology, you mentioned that you begin with an idea or concept before writing your music. It results in very different results with each release.
One of the ideas for The Arteries of Heresy is the singularity of the universe and how it renders Christian doctrines useless. This is something I think I've personally felt as well. These ideas of Heaven and Hell seem irrelevant in a universe of infinite proportions. How do you think the idea of singularity changes in religions that don't build around these Abrahamic tenets?
JL: My point was actually the purpose of trying to reach Heaven or Hell by following dogma and a spiritual path, is rendered useless in a Universe that holds all things, they exist at the same time and you are already there. But no matter what the religion is, this varies on how you see the structure of existence (God). Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, offer so much different esoteric approaches or approaches in general, that support this already, whereas Abrahamic religions are more slaves to their scriptures instead of philosophy, except once again in esotericism.
The overall idea for many is, that this reality we perceive (Maya) is an illusion and the true form of existence is hidden from our senses. Therefore, the spiritual work is based usually on lifting the veil between these planes and getting hints on the madness that unfolds behind. Some paths approach it so, that salvation lies in getting out of the cycle we are in (Samsara) unto the other plane.
I personally view that we as men are bound to the concept of Sin and this is the pit for us. To your readers, I might clear up that usually in Esotericism, God is seen as an abstract form that holds everything in existence or is existence itself.
Metal Injection: I see, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for that explanation. Once you have a concept as detailed and thorough as the one on The Arteries of Heresy, how do you then take that and begin to build your music around it?
JL: Once you have a concept like that, you usually understand it on some level instead of pretending to understand. Then the musical side comes naturally by experiment and finding the soundscapes you want to use.
Metal Injection: Have you found this process of developing a concept then building the music around it has gotten easier with each try or does each recording cycle bring its own unique challenge?
JL: Definitely the musical style for Devouring Star has become more fixed and through a lot of these experiments and “trial and error,” it has evolved to a stage where it, in fact, is easier release after release. All of the releases have their own challenges, but mostly it is to surpass anything that was before.
Metal Injection: Circling back to what you said about singularity and sin a while ago. Your view of mankind bound to the concept of sin—is this where the metaphor of man and the Whore of Babylon originates? I think of it as humanity builds itself to be the image of God, but in actuality, mankind is more of an abomination wallowing in sin, driven by perversions or greed.
JL: That is how I do see it yes, I think that we as men are bound to sin and are tied to our carnal existence in what we could consider as Hell. Divinity is impossible to reach from the Abrahamic sense as it can only be reached through a sinless individual, let us use Christ as an example, and already the dilemma there is, that Christ was divine from the beginning. Our very nature, as well as nature itself, drives us to the carnal pleasures of life and to violence and what other perversions imaginable for our own benefit and pleasure. Therefore there is certain aestheticism to the concept of Sin, I consider that pushing it to its limits and rather embracing it, is a divine act. We can consider Sin as a dilemma of an action that tries the limits of mortals and yet at the same time drives us closer to perdition.
Metal Injection: The Arteries of Heresy is an amalgamation of your previous works—taking musical aspects of Through Lung and Heart and your EPs. As you continue to make music and shape your project’s sound, where does Devouring Star go from here? Your drummer is an essential part of the project now, do you ever see expanding to a full studio band or experimenting with other instruments or sounds?
JL: A full studio band isn’t necessary as I can write everything needed unless I want to expand to new zones of instruments I am not familiar with. The way is still obscure from here, but I do see that there are a lot of opportunities to venture. Of course, I have never stopped considering the future concepts, except I want to take my time with them. I do not know if Devouring Star as a live band will expand in the future, now we are merely a 3-piece. I do not know if we will even play live in the future or whatever happens. All that matters, in the end, is the process.
Metal Injection: What does the rest of the year or 2019 hold? Any touring or live shows coming up you are excited for?
JL: The rest of the year only includes one show for 2018 at Steelchaos in Helsinki. The only other announced show is in Austria in January at Dead Kings Reign festival. Tours have not been planned due to various reasons, live shows definitely, but nothing we can speak of for now. We will see what the opportunities given are and take it from there. As stated before however, we do not push to play live, we come where we are wanted if it suits us. For us, it is quality over quantity.