Interview: Thy Darkened Shade – Devotion through Art

Thy Darkened Shade, hailing from Greece, formed in 1999 with their forward-thinking approach to black metal. Invoking the ways of old in terms of taking the genre into various spheres, going against the copy-paste and trend worshiping mindset that plagues the genre these days and this is achieved through meditative, ritual practice and devotion to Spirituality and Gnosticism, accompanied by musicianship of a high caliber. Below we will dive into an in-depth discussion with the main composer/guitarist/bassist Semjaza of “Thy Darkened Shade”

Thank you for accepting this proposal to conduct an interview. I have been listening since “Eternvs Mos, Nex Ritvs” which was the first album in 2012. Immediately I could feel something deeply rooted in spirituality, something unknown to the mundane mind, something above all that is related to matter, and once I read your lyrics it validated this fact. First I want to discuss the name “Thy Darkened Shade” what does it mean to you personally?

I am not really into revealing all the details that I have in my mind concerning TDS.

I rather have people forming their own conclusions. It is much better that way, than offering my own ideas of what this band means to me. At the end of the day, my conscious understanding of what TDS means is changing as well. I perceive some things from different angles through the years.

I also uncover new aspects of it from serious people who share their own experiences for our work. Some people take the time to absorb the work that we offer and give me back their own interpretations. This proved to be fascinating sometimes.

Plenty of listeners’ interpretations are valuable and educational for myself. With that being said, and I will be vague here, the main idea behind the name is that it refers to the collective unconscious and everything that resides within it. Within that frame, it represents everything apocryphal/hidden/dark/forbidden and occult and, of course, the shadow aspect of everything that we know. In a way, it combines two of my major interests: occultism and psychology through a strictly Left-hand Path perspective.    

The music of Thy Darkened Shade feels very classic. What I mean by classic is not in terms of sound but the fact that the music is very forward-thinking, basically invoking the ways of old with examples such as early Master’s Hammer, Necromantia, Mortuary Drape and Ved Buens Ende, where the genre was always being pushed and not just copy-paste by the standards. Do you agree with this statement? What is your view on this?

I agree exactly with what you just mentioned, since that’s how I perceive our band as well. I started listening to this style of music during the 90s, what really impressed me was the artistic freedom that BM offered. Many releases were a mind-expanding experience for me, they pushed me to learn more about the black arts, too.

BM was defined by the concept, the otherworldly dark and obscure feeling, plus the will to add something unique to the genre. All those who question this should remind themselves that Immortal and Enslaved, for instance, were not calling themselves BM because they didn’t resonate with any Satanic concepts. 

I still remember how expanded I felt the genre could become when I first heard: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the demos of Thorns, Drawing Down the Moon, The Black Arts / The Everlasting Sins, Goetia, Jilemnický Okultista, Scorn Defeat, Written in Waters, All the Witches Dance, 666 International, La Masquerade Infernale, Emperor vs Thorns, or the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I just named a few albums that first came into my mind, that were evidence of how innovative BM could become and how diverse.

Nowadays, people ask for a recipe and many bands follow, we are here to change that and remind them what the genre can become.   

All the bands we both mentioned plus so many more were contributing to that mindset of expanding the genre. That is proof that creativity was enormous and the copy-paste mentality was the ultimate sin. Every band obviously had their own influences, however, each one of them had a way to make their influences their own. That’s precisely the mindset I have for my own music.

Let us bring more musical and spiritual influences inside the BM frame that no one does, instead of copying what everyone else does, crushing boundaries and creating something new that stems from the very core of this genre.  

Let’s discuss the second chapter of Liber Lvcifer which is Mahapralaya released on January 10th. Mahapralaya meaning “The Great Dissolution” in Hindu eschatology. The way I look at it is the destruction of all that is not resonating on the path to Apotheosis, the destruction of the ego and things related to a mundane nature on the material plane. Would you care to correct me on this statement and how it actually relates to the meditations of the work on Liber Lvcifer? 

We need many hours to discuss this, but I will try to summarize some basic themes. For countless years, people have been confusing Lucifer with deities that are totally different from Him. I understood that fallacy by working closely with the energy of Lucifer, I was eager to explore and explain that with Thy Darkened Shade.

Of course, I arrived at this understanding by personal ritual practice. I worked with various magical currents, even used rituals that were fully against what I believed to arrive at these conclusions. I basically arrived at what can be called Prometheanism, in my own view, Prometheanism equals Luciferianism. All my life is centered around Prometheanism and has been an inspirational and transformative force that words cannot describe. 

About Mahapralaya, what you state is actually correct. The name refers to the great dissolution, the destruction of the universe as mentioned in the Śivapurāṇa. With the intentions that we used it, the name can have various metaphorical, allegorical and literal interpretations.

Partly it is about total abhorrence of anything that we consider as mundane. We banish the fragments of mundane filth that is still within and without us. It is through scorn (inner and outer), total dedication and adoration that our beings become aligned with our higher selves and the reality becomes transformed into something much more.

We praised creation through destruction on a personal spiritual level. We also wrote about what we considered as the most possible traps of the path that we are born to walk. There are not many rays of light on the second part of Liber Lvcifer. It is even more focused (but not solely) on the dark aspect of the deity (after and at the time of the fall). We also talk about the end of all days and the end of all flesh, and the eternal return back to the primordial mother. With that being said, we view our times on earth as a theistic challenge and a means to an end.

The aim of creating the Liber Lvcifer albums is to give praise and comprehend the deity in as many manifestations as possible, not only on a philosophical level but on a ritualistic and Qliphotic level as well. Based on my everyday workings, my main aim is to invoke the totality of the deity, not only just one aspect, which is basically a projection of a human mind. I am fed up with books/currents and magicians that minimize the totality and greatness of the mighty Sathanas into merely their own limited mind projection.

Remaining in contact with His grand energy shows a totality of a god who knows both good and evil and transcends them in ways still unknown to humankind. I can state the same about the female side of the adversary, namely Lilith, we always offer our praises to Her as well. Also, as I said in another interview, the title is also a true hail to Dissection and Jon. 

When did you start playing guitar and bass? Was your approach to music always as it is now. To create textures and layers which are meant for the listener to fully grasp with multiple listens and focus?

Not everything is so conscious when creating music, what I do and what I always did created very naturally. In many ways, my conscious interpretations came later into the picture. From my very early beginnings when I started composing pure heavy metal, my initial intention was to reflect and express what lies within. In a few words, the aim was to express myself through art.

During the years, this idea developed into something more deep and spiritual, however, the basic idea was basically the same. I really started to understand how to channel my higher self into a metal perspective with the first album of another band called Cave. That first album was a catalyst of understanding myself and Thy Darkened Shade as well.   

Lyrically, where does your inspiration come from?

Again, not everything is so conscious; however, the obvious lyrical inspiration is the unconscious and everything that stems from it. The Left Hand Path, communion with the Dark Gods, the enosis with the higher Self, personal experiences with the occult and a life dedicated to being a practitioner are an endless stream of inspiration. A certain psychologist called Carl Gustav Jung and his views on individuation has been a major inspiration too since day one, the religions of the world as well. Contradictory literature of what I believe can be fully inspirational too. But again, I process everything through my own Left Hand Path practice.

Musically, what would you say you’re inspired by?

I guess everything that I listen to inspires me in an unconscious way, I fill myself with music until it is time to express music through my vessel. I listen to a lot of music every day, passionately. Everything that I like ends up in my playlist.  Usually, it can be anything from any kind of metal to progressive, classic and psychedelic rock, Avantgarde, gothic rock, classical music composers, dark wave, neoclassical dark wave, dark ambient, ritualistic music, martial industrial, jazz, you name it. I adore music, and can call myself a music maniac. 

What goes into the creative process of your work with Thy Darkened Shade?

This is not something that I want to really fully unveil, it is certainly a painful but reflective process that I offer my own self in return. What I can say is that it is always interlinked with the Order of Promethean Fyre, my lucid dreams, the dark gods, astral worlds and my everyday ritual practice.

Let’s elaborate on the vision of your other project with “Cain Letifer” Acrimonious, is it the same as Thy Darkened Shade or does it serve a different purpose?

It is a different manifestation of the void, even though the bands have an identical Left Hand Path approach. It is crystal clear that the results of the path are very different for each one of us individually. We are coming forth from the same source, and we have very similar aims as brother bands. However, there are obvious differences in terms of artistic expressions.

For instance, even though the main composer of Acrimonious is CL, I know very precisely what ideas to use for Acrimonious and what for TDS and these are very different. We also both feel deep reverence for the Dark Gods and, as an extension, for the genre of Black Metal and its initial aim of being individual and strictly spiritual. We view it as a holy genre, and we focus on the unconscious factors that influence the bands instead of the mundane, cosmic ones. When we focus on the mundane factors and the egos of the members of the bands we listen to, we usually become alienated.    

You also mix and master music, including your own. The list includes bands such as Acherontas, Acrimonious, Onirik and recently Heretic Cult Redeemer. Do you only work with artists who have an esoteric nature, a dedication to spirituality and occultism, or can others have their music mixed and mastered by you?

Yes, I am doing some work in that field through the years, even though I don’t resonate with all of them nowadays. I will do even more in the future, since I am always expanding my knowledge. I believe it is significant when you are an artist to have an overall vision of how your albums should sound. My main occupation isn’t being a sound engineer.

People can contact me and if I am going to like their music and have the time, I can mix or master their works. 

What are your favorite artists/bands of all time?

Such an extremely difficult question to get a serious answer. I tried to make a list, but then I became fed up with myself. No matter how many bands/artists I will state here, I will always forget some. It also depends on what genre we are talking about. I believe I really resonate with originators, no matter the genre.

I see you’ll be playing live this year after years of silence alongside the legendary Mortuary Drape, also other bands such as Hell Militia and Dead Congregation. This is part of the “Prague Death Mass” and is scheduled between 27-28th October. Are there any plans for future shows/tours after this? And what are the plans for Thy Darkened Shade. Liber Lvcifer III?

I want us to do selected festivals, some headline gigs and one or two tours a year. The pre-production of LLIII is fully done, lyrics and vocals as well are constructed. Everything is pre-produced as we speak. I will revisit the pre-production in a few months again to listen if I need to change anything before we will enter the studio to record our next album.

Also, I have an inspiration and the will to do a grand project with an ep box set for TDS, time will tell if and how this will materialize. 

Once again, thank you for accepting this interview. Any final words or thoughts you’d like to share?

Thanks for the interview.

Follow the will of the higher Self which stems from the gods of the dark.

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