Exclusive Interview: Shuulak talk influences, lyrics and “Rubedo”!
Unveiling the final part of a saga in “Rubedo“, Dutch Metal act Shuulak have been exploring Man’s obsession with things that could only serve to destroy him, telling the tales of the alchemists’ path to enlightenment and the myriad ways desires for greatness inevitably end in madness and depravity. Those tales have been enthralling and so we jumped at the chance to ask them a few questions…
We might have only started listening to Shuulak with “Rubedo” but having gone back through the music you’ve created before hand since, we love what you’ve been doing! How have you found the reaction to “Rubedo” from friends and fans? “Thanks a lot guys, that’s awesome to hear! We ourselves weren’t at all sure people were going to like it. Music is a deeply personal thing. We make the music we love but that doesn’t neccessarily mean others will. But the reactions have been pretty overwhelming so far. According to both friends and reviews, it’s the best thing we’ve done so far so I guess we can call it a success. I think we ask a lot from the listener when it comes to both music and subject matter. Metal has a musical language all it’s own and while we certainly use it, there’s also some elements present that are a bit outside the norm. I was excited when the songs started to take shape as an enrichment of the sound we’ve established so far. At the same time I realised the result of this journey we’ve been on is some deeply personal stuff that might not resonate with others. I’m glad to find my apprehension was unfounded.”
We’ve made a few comparisons between your sound and that of The Raven Age, Iron Maiden and even Trivium in our review of “Rubedo“, so we must ask who the influences are on the sound that you have chosen for the music you create? “Hmmm, that’s a tough one. We’ve certainly listened to a lot of Iron Maiden as a band <laughs>. We adore the more melodic Heavy Metal of the eighties with bands such as King Diamond and Judas Priest. From the start we’ve set out to do our own thing, find a sound uniquely our own. That’s quite hard because you’ll always be influenced by others, whether you’re aware of this or not. We’ve spoken about this ourselves many a time, but even we don’t really know where the inspiration comes from. It’s mostly just a love of Heavy Metal in all it’s glory.”
“The Azoth” has a particularly majestic solo from lead guitarist Eve Laetitia. Have you found that having her in the band also gives you a wider audience at live shows? “It’s pretty great isn’t it? Eve is an amazing musician and live performer. From the first show we played together watching her work proved to be a sight to behold. But she’s more than just a guitarist. She and Angelo write all of our music and as our tech person she knows her way around the stage. Having done small vocal outros on our material in the past, on Rubedo she has her own song: The Azoth II“
The shared interest in alchemy and the occult brought you together and provides much of the lyrical inspiration, so do you have any recommendations of literature that we can read to get deeper into that aspect? “That’s a cool question. For a general understanding of the history of magic, and alchemy’s place in it, nothing really beats ‘The Golden Bough’ by J.G. Frazer. In short it describes the transformation of magic to faith to science. Written in 1890 it remains the seminal work on the subject. If you want to know where most of your favourite bands got their inspiration, look no further.”
As “Rubedo” is the final part of a tetralogy that started in 2017 with “Nigredo“, what does the future hold for Shuulak? Do you think there will be more creative freedom with your next release as it moves away from the narrative? “As the principal lyricist I’m far from done with the subject matter. It fascinates me endlessly and there’s so much more to say about it. I am however excited to tap additional wells of inspiration because I think it will shape the music in new and fascinating ways. I can’t wait to see what those might be.“
What can you tell us about the Dutch Metal scene? We’re familiar with bands like The Royal, Epics, Textures and so on but are there any bands that you can recommend? “We’re all from Brabant, a region in the south, which is a pretty good place to be a metalhead in. There are metal bars and a lot of excellent venues to go check out bands. When we were young the legendary Dynamo festival provided three days of metal mayhem! When darkness set in everybody huddled around makeshift soundsystems blasting either old Dutch nursery rhymes or goregrind. At night people made their own primal music by drumming on stuff with sticks and metal rods. Chilling out in the darkness, laughter and tribal rhythms reverberating all around, is one of my favourite memories. My tips for people to check out would be Hvalross and Celesterre, two bands I really like. Be sure to check ’em out!“