Abandon all hope ye who enter here… OSSAERT is a pitch Black Metal project originating from the Dutch lowlands whose 2020 debut ‘Bedehuis’ was received well. Now that ARGENTO RECORDS is about to release OSSAERT‘s second offering ‘Pelgrimsoord’, DEAD MILL MEDIA kindly offered and facilitated getting some more background by P, the mind behind OSSAERT. P took his time to spit his bile and let us look deep into the black soul of OSSAERT. Grab a stout, take a seat, sit back, put on ‘Bedehuis’, and enjoy the long read about arsenic, toasting to life, ants, and Romanesque!
G (THRONE OF ABSENCE): How do you look back on your debut ‘Bedehuis’? Did any events open certain doors for OSSAERT?
P (OSSAERT): When I wrote ‘Bedehuis’ in early 2019, I never expected this record to be released. My original intent was to make a demo for some of my close friends. At the time a lot was going on in my personal life which I did not really know how to deal with and OSSAERT became a great outlet. This is how ‘Bedehuis’ was formed. Several people who I showed it to pressed me to do something with the project. And so I did. It has been interesting for me to see how people reacted to the album. It was such a personal project and that made it a little scary to throw it into the world, but it all worked out. ARGENTO RECORDS saw something in the OSSAERT project and they opened the doors for me to create more OSSAERT releases, like ‘Pelgrimsoord’.
G: You are about to release ‘Pelgrimsoord’. Do you feel you are surpassing ‘Bedehuis’ with ‘Pelgrimsoord’ and on what level?
P: There was not a lot of time between me finishing the writing of ‘Bedehuis’ and starting with what would become ‘Pelgrimsoord’. ‘Pelgrimsoord’ is in many ways an extension of ‘Bedehuis’, so I find it hard to say if it surpasses. Especially because to me it feels like a different entity, a more conceptualized product. I do not know if I could compare the two; it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Of course, I can look at straight facts like production, recording tracks, and choices in drum sound, and from that perspective, I would say that I find ‘Pelgrimsoord’ to have a more dynamic sound. But I also wonder if that sound would have fit with ‘Bedehuis’. In the end, I think not.
I wanted a “roomy” but oppressive and haunting mix for OSSAERT, which is muffled but also brightP. (OSSAERT)
G: Just like for ‘Bedehuis’, you also recorded ‘Pelgrimsoord’ and SHAGOR’s ‘Sotteklugt’ at CATACOMBEN STUDIOS, so I take it you are pleased with their work. What kind of sound is it you are aiming for and how does CATACOMBEN STUDIOS manage to accommodate for that?
P: For years I have been a big fan of the majority of W. Damiaen’s (owner of CATACOMBEN STUDIOS) work. That is why I approached him to transfer my programmed drums into real drums and then to mix and master. I wanted a “roomy” but oppressive and haunting mix for OSSAERT, which is muffled but also bright. Fun fact: As I write this, I am listening to the band LASTER which W. Damiaen plays in.
Intro / Outro
To me, this is poison in the minds of men.P. (OSSAERT)
It makes people externalize responsibility
G: Can you tell us a bit more about the sources of the intro (organ/choir) & the outro (speech) on ‘Pelgrimsoord’?
P: The intro is an old recording of a hymn. The hymn describes that no mortal being can claim victory by itself, only God brings victory in the broadest sense of the word. I found this a good start to the album because it showcases the absurdity of the concept of “Man born into sin”. Within that way of thinking you can never do right as a human because you are evil to the core because of sin. Only God/Jesus can save you from eternal damnation. To me, this is poison in the minds of men. It makes people externalize responsibility: everything that is bad comes from Satan while everything that is good comes from God. Nothing comes from themselves.
The outro of ‘Pelgrimsoord’ continues that theme. The segment is from a speech of a sect leader from the 50s and 60s. He says that Satan is a detachment of God. With that, he means that God (through Christian teachings) created all and that Satan is also a creation of God. In the Bible, Jesus and Satan are both referred to as ‘Morningstar’. Maybe good and evil are the same? Maybe they cancel each other out? Maybe it is all a human construct to explain our failings.
G: I hear a sense of duality in your music, part of which is aggressive, part of which is melancholic. How do they rhyme?
P: Melancholy and aggression lie close to each other. Grief can turn into anger and vice versa. I find they also strengthen each other. Both are emotions I am well acquainted with and have had to find my way in. That is also why they rhyme; they are from my own base, the same source. OSSAERT is a release for both melancholy and aggression.
G: OSSAERT is featured in ADDERGEBROED’s book ‘2011-2021 and beyond’. Which bands in the book do you feel affiliated with? What does it mean to you that OSSAERT is part of the limited selection out of over 200 interviews? Did you ever expect you would end up among the top albums of 2020 on ZWARE METALEN?
P: It is so cool to be featured in the ADDERGEBROED book next to bands that I love to listen to. AKHLYS for example: amazing! That enormous wall of sound that blows you right over is phenomenal. Also bands like DUIVEL, BEZWERING and MESLAMTAEA are great. Not in the least because of their Dutch roots. Black Metal in my own language will always have a leg up for me. I am honored to be mentioned alongside them in the book. Another surprise was being in ZWARE METALEN‘s top albums of the year list. I really never expected that.
G: Did you get any international appreciation? From which countries outside Europe are you getting the most feedback?
P: To be honest I never kept track of where all the people who wrote about my music were from. From what I can recall now: Germany, the US, Australia, Belgium, Poland, Italy, and Israel. I believe there were some more but I have not paid close attention to it.
G: I read that you consider OSSAERT a one-man band, but that you do not exclude ever performing live. What would you require a live performance of OSSAERT to look like? I cannot imagine you would ever perform at a festival in broad daylight?
P: Never say never, but there is a big chance that I will never perform this live. If I ever do move it to a stage, I would never do it in the daylight. The ideal setting would be an old chapel with nothing but candlelight and then playing ‘Bedehuis’ and ‘Pelgrimsoord’ from beginning to end. Pretty cliché, huh? I guess for now you will just have to do with a record player in a dark room with some incense and candles.
G: How did you get signed to ARGENTO RECORDS? Who contacted who first? How is the collaboration going? How many records did you sign for?
P: After people convinced me to release my music, I approached a very select group of labels. ARGENTO RECORDS responded very positively. We went for some drinks and now, here we are. The collaboration consists of a lot of text messages toasting to life. How many albums will be released with ARGENTO RECORDS was never decided upon upfront. But for now, we are all happy with how it is going.
G: You mix Black Metal screams with clean vocals. Imagine that you would lose the ability to do both, which one would you be ok to give up on, the screams or the cleans? Why?
P: If I had to choose: cleans. I can put so much emotion in my screams that I would not want to miss it. Also, I just like screaming the most.
G: OSSAERT refers to a water spirit from a folk’s tale. D’N OSSCHAERT is also the name of the Dutch front-man of Belgian Black Metal band GOTMOOR. KLUDDE is another Belgian Black Metal band and refers to a water spirit as well. Are you familiar with GOTMOOR and/or KLUDDE? How do you like them? Which newcomer bands in the Black Metal scene of the Belgian/Dutch lowlands are worth checking out in your view?
P: To be honest, I’m not familiar with either GOTMOOR or KLUDDE, so I do not have an opinion, but, I will be sure to check them out!
DE GEVREESDE ZIEKTE is a newcomer band certainly worth checking out! It is amazing!
G: Your lyrics are written in Dutch, with some Latin. How important is it for you to write in your mother tongue? Would you consider writing in another language other than Dutch & Latin? Which? The texts have a poetic touch, albeit one with a morbid edge. Are you inspired by any specific writers? The song titles on ‘Pelgrimsoord’ are consistently mentioning pairs, was that for aesthetic reasons or are they revealing a lyrical concept?
P: I used to play in other bands where we mainly wrote English texts. I do not enjoy that as much, because I can express myself a lot better in Dutch than in English. When I write in Dutch it is easier for me to be more poetic. As for inspiration by specific authors, I do not really have any. At least, not on the poetry side. I think the fantasy writer Terry Pratchett is a great writer, but he’s not an influence on OSSAERT lyrics.
As for the title choices, it was mainly aesthetic but also I thought it described the album as a whole. The songs are all intertwined and this way I was able to bring it all together in one album.
G: What was it that triggered you to found OSSAERT? What drives you to go on? Which external, non-musical factors do you draw inspiration from? What makes OSSAERT unique?
P: As I mentioned, I started writing to make a demo for some friends and that escalated quickly. I still continue because I still see enough around me that gives me negative emotions and I would rather translate those into something more useful than depression.
G: Did the Covid-19 pandemic impact OSSAERT in any way?
P: It hasn’t affected OSSAERT, besides the delivery delay of the vinyl. It mostly has not affected OSSAERT because I am writing for some other projects at the moment.
G: You grew up in the Veluwe. What is your connection with nature, if any?
P: I could walk from my childhood home and be in the forest in 3 minutes. Throughout my life, I have felt a strong connection to the woods and stretches of heathland. These are the places where I have my oldest childhood memories and the places I retreated to, to think in absolute solitude. Or just to enjoy the smells of a forest. Or to get intensely angry when I got stung yet again by an ant.
G: Which painting movement would you associate the music of OSSAERT with?
P: I find it hard to say which movement is most like OSSAERT. I lean towards ‘Romanesque painting style’ because this style is quite 2D but touches on very deep subjects. A more appropriate art form I think is Medieval etchings: Usually low perspective (2D), black and white, and casual everyday scenes mostly with details to give a deeper meaning to the work as a whole.
The arsenic symbol is also incorporated in my new logoP. (OSSAERT)
G: REUBEN SAWYER took care of the artwork, AINUL IBLIS drew the logo. How did you discover their work? Why did you change the logo? To what level did you give them instructions on what you wanted? Which deeper meaning do the symbols & visuals have to you?
P: I told REUBEN SAWYER that I wanted an altar on the album art with the symbol for arsenic on it, like on the ‘Bedehuis’ artwork. With ‘Pelgrimsoord’ the symbol is on the altar. The idea behind it is simple: religion is poison. The arsenic symbol is also incorporated in my new OSSAERT logo because I find it exemplifies OSSAERT. It catches the essence of why I started the project. That is also why I wanted a different logo; I wanted to personalize it and connect it to the vibe that OSSAERT gives. ARGENTO RECORDS sent me a list of artists that I could approach for a new logo, including AINUL IBLIS. His style really spoke to me and so I went with him.
The old logo was made for me by a friend, JAN RAP, many years ago before OSSAERT really even had fully formed. I have been toying with the idea of a Black or Death Metal project since 2015/2016, at that time with another band member. That never worked out, but the name and logo intrigued and stuck with me. When I started this project in 2019, OSSAERT was just the most logical name to choose.
The feeling of total creative freedom is fantasticP. (OSSAERT)
G: You also lend your voice & guitar skills to the band SHAGOR. How is the 2020 album ‘Sotteklugt’ being received? In what sense do OSSAERT and SHAGOR complement each other to fulfill your creative cravings? Do you feel at home on Belgian label BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS? Any other bands you were/are active in?
P: ‘Sotteklugt’ was received incredibly well, which makes me very happy! ‘Sotteklugt’ is the first serious Black Metal record I (mostly) wrote somewhere in 2018 together with bassist ‘J.’. It took a long time for it to be released because we wanted to make a band of SHAGOR and not just a studio project. If we had never started SHAGOR, and I never had got annoyed at how long it took to find band members, I would have never started OSSAERT I think. I just had so much inspiration to write but did not want it to be for SHAGOR because there was already a record that we couldn’t release yet. And with OSSAERT I can do what I please. The feeling of total creative freedom is fantastic. On the other hand, I have noticed in the last couple of years that it is very nice to have others collaborate and think with you about what you have written and with their support bring it to a higher level, like all members of SHAGOR did. They made the parts their own and gave their own twist to it to really make it their part. As SHAGOR, we did sign to BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS. I think Jo is a nice guy to work with. He trusts us as musicians and we trust him as a record boss.
I’m also involved in some other bands/projects. Since this year I, together with SHAGOR bassist J., founded our own record label/platform because we have too many projects and didn’t want to outsource all of them. We wanted to do more things ourselves. The label is called SWARTE YSSEL. We have vinyl, CDs, tapes, and merchandise of our projects for sale and there will be new projects released under this banner. As SWARTE YSSEL we are working closely with BABYLON DOOM CULT RECORDS for the vinyl releases. Like J’s solo project DINBETHES for which I recorded the high screams, which will be released somewhere in the coming year with Babylon Doom Cult. But also for other projects, we plan to check with Jo if he is interested in the vinyl release. There will be a Punk/Black Metal project called WEERZIN and a more pagan (I think?) Black Metal project called SUOL. Besides that, I am working on a (for now) nameless project, also Black Metal but more aiming towards the ‘raw Black Metal’ genre. By the way, OSSAERT will remain with ARGENTO RECORDS.
It is “the stranger in our midst”P. (OSSAERT)
G: Black Metal is existing for decades now. Is Black Metal here to stay? Why is it that the first and second wave of Black Metal still appeals to new generations? What is the strength of Black Metal? What is it in Black Metal that attracts you? If I am not mistaken, your musical preferences are not limited to Black Metal. Why did you opt to play Black Metal above all with OSSAERT and SHAGOR? Which other style would you prefer to play next?
P: I think Black Metal being “different than usual” (whatever that may be haha) attracts people to this kind of music. And with that, I mean that Black Metal is a music genre, which by song structure, production, and use of instruments really differentiates itself from all other genres and even all other sub genres of metal. It is “the stranger in our midst”. At least that is why I was fascinated by it at a young age and the reason why I wanted to make it myself. I never had musicians around me that wanted to make that too. But since a couple of years, I’ve found those like-minded folks (like SHAGOR) and of course, I do it by myself with OSSAERT. I don’t really have another style I want to make after this, although I would like to make a Heavy Metal record just for the sake of it with a friend of mine: GERBEN.
I want to spit my bile and throw some dissonant noise over itP. (OSSAERT)
G: Dreaming big, what is OSSAERT’s ultimate musical ambition? What will the future bring?
P: I have no ultimate musical ambition with OSSAERT. I want to spit my bile and throw some dissonant noise over it. And as far as I can see, it has worked!
G: Final words?
May 19th, 2021
OSSAERT images used with kind permission of DEAD MILL MEDIA