You could say that Horrenda is the reason Resounding Footsteps exists, it was their demo “Neronian Times” that first made me think “I have to tell people about this” and from there it blossomed. In each conversation I have had with Darragh or Horrenda I have never failed to learn something. Knowledge, wisdom, history, folklore, and social issues are the basis for Horrenda’s lyrics and image. And without a doubt everything is crafted in such a way that you want to learn more.
Resounding Footsteps: Tell me the history of Horrenda, from concept to now.
Outis: Horrenda started as a solo project to focus on the darker side of metal. With a focus on noise, harsh guitar tones, ambient chords and an extremely raw production style. I was aiming for a Burzum/DSBM infused project.
Once I decided to start gigging, I realised two things: DSBM doesn’t translate well live in a band format and it’s a hard thing for non fans to “get into.” At that point, I changed up the production and writing style to be more like Mayhem and Gorgoroth. With a fixed line up now, we can explore new sounds, gig more and really push the band to new levels.
We still explore themes like negativity and depression but also touch off Irish myths and history. This translates to the live shows; with us always telling a complete narrative instead of just being a band playing songs which seems to put us apart from standard tropes of modern “main stream” metal.
RF: How did you guys get into metal? What was the trigger point, do to speak?
Outis: Like most people, around 11-13 would be the main years when you become aware of metal. I got into the metal through Metallica and then the big four and it developed from there. Once I discovered Megadeth the whole game changed; I discovered that metal could be about something bigger than playing fast and singing about demons. Metal was always pure and open expression; it exists because there is meaning behind it and that is something that I tried to instil in my music.
Nomad: I got into metal when I was around 12-13; I started with the likes of the big four, Machine Head, and White Zombie. However, it was Sepultura who truly made me the metal fan I am today; it also opened a gateway to more extreme sounds.
Dord: I grew up in the 80s. Hard rock was just normal culture at the time. In the 90s, MTV Europe and magazines were amazing, and unbelievably our national government owned radio station played 2hrs of metal and rock every Sunday night for about a decade…No trigger point: you’re either inclined to metal or you find it silly or stressful.
RF: Tell me a little about your stage names and what they mean to you.
Outis: It must be said that while I think the stage name trope of black metal is overused; if used correctly however, it can still add to the overall ascetic of the piece.
Outis is the Latin version of the “οὔτις” which was the name the Greek hero Odysseus gave to the giant Polyphemus after he blinded him. It means nobody or no one. It has also been a pseudonym for years of writers and poets who wrote darker material like Edgar Allen Poe, etc. I think it also works in a black metal context as I feel that black metal is not about the person more about the art piece itself.
Nomad: A nomad is someone who lives in solitude far away from society. To me, it sums up how I felt growing up just being somewhat of a loner and not fitting in anywhere. That and it’s awesome Sepultura song.
Dord: Dord means ‘bass’ in Irish, the musical term, not the instrument. Intriguingly it’s a ‘ghost word’ in English, in other words invented by mistake in the dictionary collation/manufacturing process in the early 20th century, but amazingly is almost a synonym for the natural language Irish version of the word.
RF: Tell me about your last performance. I’ve seen the pictures but tell me about it in your own words.
Nomad: The gig was great. Couldn’t have hoped for a better one. The new lads did really well and I’m looking for to what’s in the future.
Dord: Jean Claude the sound engineer made it sound awesome. We made a couple of small wrong notes, but it is raw black metal, and in the venue by all accounts it sounded really good. As long as the promoters and paying customers feel we’re not wasting anyone’s time, it’s all good.
Outis: We don’t gig a lot so when we do we make it count. We always try to make every gig a show that unlike anything around in the Irish today.
We try to be something that is true to Norwegian black metal while being accessible enough to draw in newer fans and something they’ll remember.
RF: Nomad and Dord, a lot of Horrenda’s lyrical and musical inspiration comes from Irish history (both modern and legendary) and Greek and Roman antiquity. What drives your musical/lyrical inspirations?
Nomad: purely a fondness of culture and history something that especially in Ireland people seem to be forgetting. Currently I have some stuff written for future tracks which I take a lot of inspiration from Gaelic and Greek gods and goddesses. In the song “By Royal Decree” I took inspiration from when Ireland became part of the British Empire.
Dord: My own contribution is to suggest aspects of Irish culture that aren’t being covered by the earlier BM bands in Ireland. There are some guys doing the Irish folk metal thing but while that’s awesome, it doesn’t actually offer a serious perspective on the issues of what it means to be Irish. We’ve had waves of the beaker people (no one actually knows who they were), Picts, native Britons, Celts, Vikings, Normans, Basques, Huguenots…but you wouldn’t know it going on the national identity as understood by people themselves and indeed by other metal bands with that as an area of interest. Barring of course Primordial, who are pretty much ploughing their own furrow in regards to ‘realistic’ Irish black metal. The oldest musical instruments in Europe were found in a field near my house a few years ago, but no one seems to know or care that we have that link right there in front of us.
RF: What do you want to see in Horrenda’s future as far as performance and music?
Nomad: Performance we have some ideas we are preparing for future big gigs but we are keeping it simple for now. Musically we are going to release a few demos and hopefully an album by summer 2017.
Outis: To leave an impression and be a call back to a lost form of metal. We are something and a type of band that honestly a lot of younger fans haven’t seen before because it’s not popular. We go beyond just playing the songs and getting off the stage.
We try to take our audience on a journey; with sights, sounds and the order of the songs. Every show is based around the album/demo that we are promoting. The people at the shows and who connect with our material get that and that’s amazing. I speak for the rest of the band when I say that we give it all at our shows.
RF: Nomad, what is your approach to your vocal style? Is it something you just came up with or did you have to develop it?
Nomad: Originally I was a death metal vocalist until I joined Horrenda so I was used to the techniques already. Over a month or so I worked on what vocals fit the best in which I took lots of inspiration from Attila, Maniac, Abbath, and Celtic Frost. I had to develop my high pitch over time.
RF: Dord, as the newest members of Horrenda, what was it like performing for the first time?
Dord: I’m a bassist more due to being enthusiastic and relatively punctual. I used to play drums, got half decent on guitar and volunteered to play bass just mainly because Dar ‘Outis’ is doing some things that I was ready for a long time ago. This only became feasible recently such as embedding cultural/musical themes in the music, including noise/sampling aspects.
To that extent just being able to provide some low end glue to help it all hang together was gratifying. It’s just a matter of tuning up my fingers to the bass as an instrument, and being able to support the guys live. I probably need a more metal looking bass.
RF: Nomad and Dord, what do you guys hope to contribute to the new album? How are you hoping to put your personal mark on the sound and evolution of Horrenda?
Nomad: Not much Outis has kind of perfected the sound and tone of the band. Just looking forward to more gigs and eventually writing more in the future.
Dord: I just want to play decent bass and contribute some points about timing or artwork etc. They might let me play some lead guitar, but it’ll be nasty thrashy soloing, if they do.
RF: What are Horrenda’s plans in the coming days?
Nomad: It’s all about the gigs, man.
Outis: We’ve a few gigs lined up including our first international show in Finland and a few festivals next year. However, at the moment, we’re working on pumping out a full band demo, a Merciful Fate cover for Blackened Death Records and getting set for the string of gigs and festivals that we are playing next year ahead of the album.
RF: What does the name Horrenda mean to you?
Nomad: Knowing the meaning and history of the event “Synodus Horrenda’ the name to me means darkness evil. It also embodies the madness and darkest parts of people along with the mess that we find ourselves in as a people.
Dord: There is a narrative about it from the point of Roman Catholic history. It IS an actual thing. For me personally it just refers to the horror of social degradation and crazy cultural and economic trends at loose in the world right now. It’s just the madness of a world that’s in a bad way. Ireland specifically is a mess. The hopelessness and corruption today is a match for the madness of any historical pope.
Outis: For me, Horrenda is the most honest form of Irish metal that you can hear today. I have a clear vision of what I what to do with the band and that’s something that Nomad, and Dord all share.
There is no pretense with this band. We’re not doing this to be “famous” or for ego hence the corpse paint, masks and the black metal naming convention. This is bigger than the sum of its part for us. We’re doing it because we love black metal. We have something to say and talk about topics (like Irish/Greek/Roman society, history and art) that just aren’t being said or covered by anyone else nor do we sound like any other band in Ireland today.
Now, while there are elements that I have picked up in my time on the Irish scene and you can hear that. In a lot of ways, Axial Symmetry and Horrenda are very much linked with us falling on the blacker rawer side of things and AS being a polished death experience. I do consider Horrenda to be a natural follow on from AS and vice versa. Sure, Gav is a good friend of mine to this day and he even added the final touches to the layout of the Neronian Times art after I designed it.
RF: A lot has been said about the dearth of the Irish black metal scene. What are your thoughts on the scene at home and internationally?
Nomad: the best time for metal music is now. There are so many great bands out there if you look for them and it’s now easier than ever to listen to them with Spotify and other streaming services. The metal scene in Ireland is dying sadly as all the more popular bands are repetitive copycats of mediocre metalcore and deathcore bands. There are still great bands in the scene but the lack of people going to local gigs and the amount unoriginal boring mundane shit being released is bringing it down.
Dord: I’m a bit older than the other guys so in my heyday, there were a couple bands that to me did something great. Primal Dawn & A Distant Sun. My generation got lost in the mix and only really exists as history for the younger guys. Apart from Primordial, I can’t think of anyone else doing black metal in a way that feels relevant. Maybe Axial Symmetry? Someone has to do it; it may as well be Horrenda.
Outis: Ireland, and the Irish Metal Scene, has some of the best bands, best musicians and the best of people playing today. That said, the scene, by its nature, is choking the life out of a lot of them. I have seen some great bands being choked into submission and forced to give up for a number of reasons: money, emigration or getting sick of the pandering metalcore politics etc.
So it becomes less about talent/artistic merit or output game and more “who can hang on the longest.” Before the crash, during the “Celtic Tiger” metal was dying because of indie rock and after a huge come back it’s committing suicide because people don’t want to play it.
There is an “Irish Metal Sound” and bands on the blackened side are not it. Metalcore and Trivium rip off bands are the “Irish sound” with the scraps going to a handful of thrash bands. The only people killing the scene now are Irish metalheads who don’t like metal.
There is hope on the Irish scene front; guys like Trevor McCormack from Cranium Titanium and Ian from Rebel Radio are awesome. They dig through the brick wall and expose all elements of Irish metal to the masses.
Abroad, there is hope. Metal is growing and there is a renewed interest in BM and this is something that I have noticed with the growth of Horrenda and Mort aux Gueux in particular. This is one of the reasons why playing Finland is a huge deal for us. I love Ireland but compared to the BM heartlands, it doesn’t love metal.
We’ve decided to not play that game and focus on the music; try to play everywhere and reach black metal fans no matter where they are. Horrenda has some of the best fans of any band, I’ve been in and I am very grateful for that.
Check out their extensive back catalog on their bandcamp and check out their facebook for updates on their upcoming album. They also have a soundcloud that’s regularly updated with demo versions of songs.
These guys are some of the best around, check them out!