As a big fan of the South American extreme metal, one month ago I haven't hesitated to contact via FB the Chilean black/death metallers Siaskel for an interview useful also to satisfy my many curiosities about the people of Selk'nam, the now defunct indigenous Patagonian tribe explored into the albums of the band. This explains why the interview, at a certain point, becomes almost an hystory lesson, and I think that the Selk'nam are worthy to be further deepened by everyone is interested to this kind of themes. So, enjoy this very long and good interview!
Hail guys! Starting this interview, do you want to tell us the story of Siaskel? Now you are real veterans considering you play since 2003!
Hails! Siaskel was conceived in 2003, but the band was on stand-by process for many years because of the lack of commitment of some members from that time. It wasn’t until 2011 that the band finally found a stable line-up. Our first LP “Jatenentolpen Thejin” was recorded between 2011-2012. It was supposed to be released on vinyl by a record label that ended up closing their activities and doesn’t exist anymore, so we had to self-release that album on 2014. The same year we recorded our second album “Haruwen Airen”, we took our time to have a great artwork and good deal with a label, so in January of 2016 it was released on tape by Graceless Recordings. Later, the portuguese label Signal Rex got interested in working with us and they offered a cd release; due to different issues the release was delayed, but it should be out on distribution soon.
Where and how were happened the recordings of “Haruwen Airen”? What was the most demanding song during the recordings of the album?
The recordings had place in Santiago, Chile. With a stable line-up, the recordings didn’t take too much time on every session and no hurry was chasing us, so we were completely focused in making it happen. Probably, the most demanding song was "Han K’wuin Saik", because of the speed of the blast beats. But none of us really had any problem recording. We use to rehearse very often, and each member master his/her instrument so we had no problems with the materialization of our sound art.
As I wrote into the review, you combines the hyper-blasting black metal of Marduk with the death metal of Morbid Angel adding to all this also a light tribal touch. So, what were your influences?
To be honest, Morbid Angel never entered in our minds at the moment of composing for Siaskel, even though, their first albums are considered school but their last work is utterly disapointing. But Marduk, yeah! Maybe it’s easier to talk about albums: Marduk’s "Panzer Division Marduk"; Dark Funeral’s "Vobiscum Satanas"; Limbonic Art’s "Moon in the Scorpio"; Thunderbolt’s "Inhuman Ritual Massmurder"; Urgehal’s "Massive Terrestrial Strike"; Tsjuder’s "Desert Northern Hell"; MasseMord’s "Let the World Burn"; Incantation’s "Mortal Throne of Nazarene", to name some between a long etc… We can say those albums left cracks on our heads and directly influenced us.
What represents the cover artwork of “Haruwen Airen” and who made it?
The figures on the cover represent the most iconic characters of Selk’nam culture, people on their ceremonies used that kind of painting to represent different gods, warriors, sorcerers, etc. They had a very strong connection with their ancestral myths; as every “pagan” culture they were profoundly identified with those beings that represent the strength and warlike aggression, the courage and other necessary virtues to live in such an hostile land as the southernmost place of Chile, where the climatic and environmental conditions make survival very difficult without modern commodities. Selk’nam people were violently exterminated, all that they left us is a legacy of their culture and cosmogony. Those phantasmagoric silhouettes inserted between chaos represent the immortality of their myths, their mighty gods and ruthless demons who are still there, protecting their land and maybe, in some time, they will rise and manifest. The cover art was made by Chilean artist Daniel Hermosilla, aka Nox Fragor.
I think that you are the very first metal band of all times to singing in Ona language! Why do you use this unusual language and what are its main features?
As a form of respect and tribute to this culture so misunderstood and underrated. There are very few informations available about their language, so we had to research a lot for rescue some expressions and words. Anyway, we are very satisfied with that work and how we have integrated it to our lyrics and concept. The phonetic is very aggressive, so it fits perfectly with our music.
How was born your incredible fascination toward the Selk’nam’s people? Do you want to tell something about them? For example, what were their religious beliefs?
Because of the fact that it was one of the most ancient cultures of our land, and one of the less seriously explored. The dark part of it attracted to us a lot, we really wanted to rescue that part, because all that media spreads about this culture is in form of tales for children, and doesn’t represent all the demonic universe recreated by Selk'nam people on their ceremonies that. About their beliefs, as I said before, they were pagans and their myths are about cosmos, gods coming from the stars, the sun and the moon as deities, demons coming from the underworld. If we could give you a reference, maybe we can say that they have similarities with Sumerian or Babylonian culture, so you can figure out how antique were them! But there is so little space here to explain this issue in detail.
“Haruwen Airen” is an album focused on the religion and cosmogony of the Selk’nam. Specifically, what are the themes of each song of the album?
We describe with some details their myths and ceremonies, their initiatory rites in which the novice could die chased by phantoms, their shamanic rites, the rite of Hain in which many women of the tribe were murdered, allegories of their deities and demons which they feared, all that obscure and horrifying part omitted on the children tales. This is extreme metal! There is no place here for beautiful nor positive things!
Personally, I don’t still listened your debut album. So, what are the differences between “Jatenentolpen Thejin” and “Haruwen Airen”? Do you think that your second album is a great step forward for you?
Definitively, there is a big time gap between the creation of first and second album. Many influences had passed, new ideas that we needed to concrete. "Haruwen Airen" is more complex and well elaborated in musical resources than "Jatenentolpen Thejin".
I must admit that Chile has one of my favorite extreme metal scenes! In fact, ultimately it offering a bunch of quality’s extreme bands, especially regarding the death metal. Why does extreme metal seems to be so popular in Chile? In general, how much is the heavy metal important into the musical life of your country?
There is a solid school that have transcended, there are people very committed who takes metal as a way of life, and contribute with musical creation, labels, magazines. The scene was born in the eighties, and it got stronger on the '90s and the first decade of 2000. Now we can notice some decadence, because the bands exceed the number of places available for metal gigs, so there are some events of really bad quality, deplorable sound, with two good bands and maybe six mediocre bands on the same gig, that make the real metal fans feel disapointed, they lose the enthusiasm. Event producers need more critical sense, they should take things more seriously, even under difficult conditions, there is no excuse to make things in a mediocre way. But at least, there are still some great bands that release good productions in Chile and abroad, serious producers (very few but there are), and committed labels and zines that spread their material. Thanks to all them for keep this alive!
I always wonder why the South American extreme metal is so immensely violent and angry. For you, are there particular reasons behind all this mega-furious metal? For example, I think that this uncontrollable rage derives, in part, from the recent past of many South American countries since they lived very violent dictatorships (Argentina, Chile…), so influencing the new generations.
South America is a continent marked by social differences and subject to abuses from state and global corporations. All this generate rage and impotence on population, but I think that there is no place in the world where people can live in complete peace and harmony. Evil exists, it's is part of our human nature, and an active force that participate in the functioning of the universe. For that reason it has always been present in ancient traditions, there is no gods without demons, nor peace without war. And maybe because of this there are so many furious and violent metal bands from all over the world. In our case, and South America in general, maybe the mixture of warrior races in our genes add some more aggressiveness in our beings, and what could be better than use it making music!
As you said before,
“Haruwen Airen” has been reissued on different formats by labels like the US Graceless Recordings and the Portuguese Signal Rex Productions. Do you have the intentions to collaborate again with them?
Both labels have accomplished the deals, and have shown good attitude until the moment, so we don’t discard to work with them again. But any serious offer is welcome, all we want is keep transcending borders with our music.
We are finishing our third album, all creative process is completed and instrumental parts recorded. We keep evolving as a band, I could say that next album comes very different than the previous two but always respecting the line of the real black metal of death. The creative core of Siaskel has always been in the band even as a quartet. Recently, a new member has incorporated to do the rhythm guitars because tracks are composed for two guitars and he is essential to playing live. Fortunately, after our last guitarist Oblimink left the band on 2014, there have been always collaborators for that position.
Ok, this mega-interview is ending. Now feel free to say what you want to greatly end it!
Thanks for your interest, and keep walking the path of real black and putrified metal music.
Infernal greetings from Chile!