Anagnorisis's Sam and Chris Go Beyond The Light

Louisville’s black-metal horde Anagnorisis recently released their sophomore LP, "Beyond All Light" thus keyboardist Samuel Hartman and drummer Chris Smith discuss this release and the upcoming plans for the future.

1. Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Anagnorisis.

Sam: I’m Sam Hartman, and I play keyboards/synth. Chris Smith, our drummer, will also be answering some of the questions.

2. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?

Chris: The band is based out of Louisville Kentucky, where the music scene had been a bit stagnant for a while in my personal opinion until the last year or two, and it's slowly getting back in shape. I think some of the new venues that have opened up since then who can cater to local and national bands alike have played an integral role in this, and some of the bands I would suggest from around here or at least in the state are (Ohlm), Littledidweknow, All Dead, Voyage Of Slaves, Eschatos, Dysphoria, Esoteric Burial, Order Of Leviathan, and The Oedipus Complex. That should hold you over for a while.

3. What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?

Sam: The Anagnorisis discography includes four official releases: Overton Trees (2007), Alpha & Omega (2009), Ghosts of Our Fathers (2012), and our latest release, Beyond All Light (2013). Each has met acclaim in its own rite, but Beyond All Light has surpassed all the others in terms of recognition (pun intended), receiving praise from Pitchfork, to Last Rites, Revolver, and Metal Temple, who kindly called it a “black metal masterpiece.”

4. What soul labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?

Sam: Without sounding too conceited, I think we bring something new to the vast genre known as black metal, both musically and idealistically. It’s hard to describe that in words, so I encourage anyone to simply listen to the music and form opinions based on that.

5. Who produced Beyond All Light and what was it like working with them?

Sam: Writing and recording Beyond All Light was a process that involved the entire band, and as we recorded it at our guitarist’s own studio, we produced the album ourselves. While it can be a boon to have outside inspiration, we've always worked best as “DIY” band, reflecting on the music ourselves and deciding which directions to take internally.

6. Is there any story or concept behind the Beyond All Light’s title?

Sam: Yes, it largely based around the emotional struggle of our vocalist, Zachary Kerr, with many allusions and references from the depth of human struggle thrown in. We plan to release the full story of Beyond All Light with our vinyl release, later this year.

7. Who did the cover art for Beyond All Light and how much input did you have on it?

Sam: The cover art is the famous Gustav Dore’s “The Enigma,” painted in response to the French defeat in 1870 at the hands of the Prussians (Germans). The painting depicts the suffering of humankind, confusion, and turmoil. These themes resonate deeply within the album.

8. Select two songs from Beyond All Light and what inspired the lyrics.

Sam: One of the great things about lyrics is that they are open to interpretation, which is merely what I can give, being that our vocalist Zachary Kerr penned them in a quite personal fashion. However, his struggle, from the torment of an extreme Christian boarding school, to being “burdened by social taboos” speaks to me about the resilience of the human spirit. Indeed, a theme among many of our songs, including ones from Alpha & Omega and Ghosts of Our Fathers, have touched on individuality, the self, and living a god-free life. One of my favorite lines from the closing song, Forever Night, is:

“Every dream I've ever had has died / But soon enough I’ll get it right / On my terms / In my own light”

9. How has this released differed, compared, and evolved from the EP "Ghosts Of Our Fathers"?

Chris: It's obviously a much longer release, one that we actually put together quicker with the luxury of not having to try and find members to try out and prepare for shows in the process. This album was similar conceptually in a sense that they were both based on personal matters dealt with by some of the members of the band, and acted as a memorial or catalyst for overcoming said struggles. Both were therapeutic in their own way. Musically there's a lot of diversity, whereas Ghosts was a two song EP that was quick and straight to the point, and Beyond All Light was a much more experimental and atmospherically driven record.

10. Was your songwriting and recording process any different than usual for this CD?

Chris: This is my second album I've been a part of since joining, an I would like to think that the material came together much quicker in comparison based off the length and the attention to detail that was emphasized in the songs, though there were many long and sleep deprived nights that were necessary in oversee to have this album out this year, and we did all of this in almost a year to the date of our last release.

11. What's your take on Beyond All Light as a whole?

Chris: I'm honestly still just taking it all in, not that I wasn't impressed with the material myself, but the exposure and wave after wave of congratulatory mentions of the album is pretty surreal for me. This is by far the biggest and most fulfilling musical endeavor I've been a part of and I couldn't be happier with the outcome and success of Beyond All Light.

12. What's your favorite song on the album right now?

Chris: I would say at the moment "This Cursed Blood", mostly because it's one of two songs we haven't played live yet, and I'm really itching to showcase it. The drumming aspect for that song is the most demanding on the album and I could see it being a real crowd pleaser, something to get the crowd up and moving.

13. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?

Chris: Very much so. I don't know any other way to describe it than that, but whether it be my band or anyone else I'm listening to, I've always associated landscapes and other forms of mental visualizations with music. Speaking of this, we actually used a color coding system when tentatively naming the songs in the writing process basing it on this same approach, so our album in order was originally Red, Black, Orange, Green, Blue, and White, so if that makes sense in any way if you listen along with those colors in mind, then I guess we did what we set out to do with that.

14. What would be the cinematic equivalent of Beyond All Light?

Sam: Based on the cover art, likely a movie about war, and the struggles that come with it.

15. What are your expectations for the CD?

Chris: I would just like to get it out further and into the hands of more potential fans and positive reviewers.It has already surpassed many expectations I had for it and it's getting better by the day, and I would just want to see more of the stellar comments and opinions about our album.

16. Where is the new material headed?

Chris: I think it's a consensus view that this was the direction we all wanted to steer the band into, and I would say the next release will be more of the same. By no means a carbon copy, but merely another honest album going outside the realms of elitist black metal and forging further our own original take on USBM.

17. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?

Sam: Lyrically there is much sadness in the album, but glimpses of hope and some positive messages, particularly in “Forever Night” that speak to me. To me, the message that the listener can take away is this: only you are responsible for your life - no god or other authority figures - and this knowledge can lead you to joy/success, or to failure/depression.

18. What plans do you have for the near future as a band?

Chris: Our biggest plan is to have a vinyl pressing of the new album out hopefully at the end of the year. It's been something we've wanted to do with Beyond All Light from the moment we broke ground on it, and we have a lot of extra bells and whistles we want to add to the vinyl release. The goal is to have a release show for it in which we will play the entire album from start to finish. We also have just released the first installment of our behind the scenes footage of the album in its developmental stages.

19. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Chris: As just about any band does, we have put ourselves on just smith every form of social networking, but we are big advocates of Bandcamp, which you can find all of our releases and a link to our merch store handled by BigCartel delivered from the band personally.

20. Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?

Chris: First of all, our three previous releases are practically free on our Bandcamp, a "pay what you want" ordeal, which we have been lucky to have some wonderful fans actually pay some generous amounts for our music which they could just as easy get free, so I would like to thank those people at this moment and also be so bold as to say I hope that's a testament to what we have brought to the metal community. Our live show is intense and pummeling, with attention to detail in every aspect, from our stage presence, to lightning and banners, and an ever changing unique merch display that steps outside the circle of your everyday table and grid wall setups. We strive to be professional and against the grain with everything we out into the band, and hope that effort relays to the listener or show attendee.

21. Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Chris: Thanks for all the continued support, and hope to see you at a show soon!

Sam: Thank you Natalie for the continued support, and to our fucking awesome fans. Hails!

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