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Eternal Wisdom

With ‘… Of Eternity’ (2010) and ‘Meditation of the Cleansing Fire’ (2012) the German one-man formation Eternal Wisdom delivered two pleasant and solid black metal records, in the vein of Dark Funeral, Dissection, Unanimated, Hades (Almighty) and co. Earlier this year Johannes “Hanni” Tüllner (the man behind this band) released his third Eternal Wisdom long player, ’Pathei Mathos’. The cover artwork already raised questions about the album’s musical direction, and although black metal still has the upper hand, Hanni has also adapted the musical direction and introduced a great deal of death metal. Doing that Hanni has not only delivered a more versatile album, but has also distanced himself from the black metal clichés and will apply to a larger audience. The band is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year; so enough reason for us to have a conversation with the man about his band, the new album and further plans.

By: Nima | Archive under black metal

First of all; hails and congratulations on your new release, ‘Pathei Mathos’. But before we go more into that, 2015 also embarks Eternal Wisdom’s tenth anniversary, so a big hail and congratulations on this event as well. Seeing that this is the first time we do an interview with you, let’s go back in time a little bit. You started Eternal Wisdom back in 2005. Was the initial idea to be a one-man band from the beginning?
Hey Nima, nice to do this interview with you and thanks for your kind words. Back in 2005 I was 15 years old and played guitar in some projects but I never found musicians who also wanted to play the same style of music as I did. Also the musical skills were often very different, because of that I was displeased most of the times I played with other people. I had a clear idea how the music of my band should sound. I enjoyed being alone and writing songs at that time. So it was the logical step to form Eternal Wisdom as a one-man band.

Your debut album, ‘…Of Eternity’ was a decent black metal album and it was obviously influenced by Scandinavian black metal, with here and there a flirt towards death metal that reminded me of bands like Dissection and Unanimated. Please tell us a bit about your influences and the musical direction you had in mind for Eternal Wisdom.
Before I started Eternal Wisdom I was mind-blown by albums like ‘Storm Of The Light’s Bane’ by Dissection and ‘Diabolical’ by Naglfar. Additionally I was a big fan of solos and glorified guitarist like Chuck Schuldiner, Andy LaRocque and Jeff Waters. I wanted to combine all I loved in this music into one sound. For me that meant fast solos and Scandinavian melodies united in the style of black metal.

In early 2012 you also released an EP under the banner of Totgeburt, also a one-man project by yourself. I admit that I’m not familiar with that release, but could you please tell a bit about that project and why you decided to have yet another one-man project besides Eternal Wisdom?
In 2012 I had a personal crisis and needed something for compensation. Eternal Wisdom was not the right band to release my feelings in that part of my life. I needed some raw and obscure music to express my feelings. That was the moment I decided to form Totgeburt. I wrote a full-length album for Totgeburt after the release of the ‘Das Ritual Beginnt’ EP, but the future of this project is unknown because I am more focused on Eternal Wisdom. But someday I will record and release that Album. It would be a shame to leave it for what it is, because I like the material.

In late 2012 you released the fantastic, ‘Meditation of the Cleansing Fire’. I like that album more than the debut because of its extremer character. Roughly two years later, ‘Pathei Mathos’ is a fact. This album definitely has all elements of Eternal Wisdom, but the striking point is that it’s a lot more death metal-oriented than your previous works. Was that a conscious choice? What did you have in mind for ‘Pathei Mathos’ when you started working on the album?
At some point I listened more to death metal than black metal and that has influenced my whole songs. In addition I’m not the kind of person who wants to play the same style of music on the whole discography of a band. I think the death metal influences did it well. It integrates more freshness and vitality in the album. Probably, the musical style will change on the following Eternal Wisdom albums as well. I’m working on mew material already and its sounds a little bit different again. I’m curious.

band imageI don’t mean this as criticism (as I mentioned in my review, I’m a big fan of clichés even), both ‘…Of Eternity’ and ‘Meditation…’ were not exactly original black metal albums. What I also found attractive about those records was the fact that the melodic, atmospheric black metal you delivered isn’t heard much nowadays. Black metal has definitely changed over the years and has taken other extreme forms in terms of “purity” and image. With ‘Pathei Mathos’ I also get the idea that you wanted to step away from the current black metal course a little bit…
That’s right! I could never identify with the idea of “trueness” and “elitism” in black metal. I love the atmospheric and musical component of black metal, and that is it. That’s the reason why Eternal Wisdom is far away from this typical black metal image. I’m very happy with this fact, because I don’t like to conform.

Of course your music always had a flirt with death metal in the past, but on ‘Pathei Mathos’ you have taken that a step further. I think you have definitely proved your abilities regarding that genre as well. In how far was ‘Pathei Mathos’ more challenging that your previous albums? I mean, I think that death metal, and combining it with the Eternal Wisdom sound required a different approach altogether…
The songwriting for Eternal Wisdom happens unconsciously. I’m not trying to think too much during the songwriting process, to save the emotional part of music. Because of that, there were no special challenges in the process of development.

The title ‘Pathei Mathos’ is, I believe, taken from the “suffer and learn” principle of Agamemnon. Looking at some of the song titles, I get the idea that this is a conceptual album. In how far did I get it right? Can you tell us about the album title, the lyrics, and (if it is the case) the concept?
Yes it’s a concept album. Before I chose the title “Pathei Mathos”, I read a lot about mythology and fairy tales as a form of a collective psychotherapy. By that I mean mythology as support for coping with life. I dealt with the Greek tragedy and I came from Oedipus to Sisyphus to Aeschylus and the Agamemnon. It always leads to finding sense in the suffering and goes into different directions than the nihilism. I wanted to focus on different approaches of this topic in every song. I used C.G. Jung’s shadow projection (‘Gateways To Archaic Symbolism’), Fritz Riemann’s antinomies of life (Schizoid Depressions And Hysterical Obsessions) and the idea of Karma (Seelenwanderung) for example.

If ‘Pathei Mathos’ is indeed a concept album, what was the biggest challenge and what were the obstacles in achieving the album?
I think it was my bad knowledge of the English language, hehe.

I don’t think the name Eternal Wisdom was chosen randomly at the time and that your lyrics have a deeper meaning and deeper context. Your opinion please, and please tell us a bit about the subjects that interest you and why they do, and in how far you (try to) reflect those interest in your music….
No, I chose the name Eternal Wisdom randomly. It’s only a synonym for the term “God”. I’m interested in many different ideas and versions of the meaning of “God”. That’s the reason I read different occult and esoteric literature. Some people think Eternal Wisdom is a Christian band but this is false. I am far away from religious doctrines and want to edit this topic so impartial than possible.

Where do you get your greatest inspirations from? Books, documentaries, movies etc…?
I’m inspired by books. The most important authors for me are Thorwald Dethlefsen, C.G. Jung, Eliphas Levi and Fritz Riemann. But I think the biggest inspiration is one’s self. Meditation and contemplation is the most important thing in the process of creativity.

I understand that being a one-man band makes it very difficult to perform live. Do you think to be able to take Eternal Wisdom on stage in the near future and if yes, what can we expect? I mean, I can imagine that expectations from the fans may when they will get the opportunity to see the band live…
I have no plans for live activities and have no desire to do that either. I don’t like playing for an audience or to be on stage. I’m too Sociophobic for that, haha.

Apart from the fact that you are responsible for all the music, lyrics and instruments, and also the fact that you have your own OTOW label, Eternal Wisdom is a family-matter. You brother has been responsible for the production and your father for the cover artworks. Have you ever considered forming a complete line-up or working with a full band again?
No, I’m very happy with the current situation. I love working with my brother. For example, we decided after a night heavy drinking to do the recordings of the acoustic guitars for ‘Pathei Mathos’ in the woods. It was very cold for playing guitar but we had a lot of fun. The same applies for my father’s artworks. His paintings represent the music of Eternal Wisdom because in some parts we are very similar and I have an emotional reference to his works. The paintings hung in the house of my parents and it’s cool to get the works for my music.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a one-man band in general?
The advantages of a one-man band are that you are the lord of the whole music and have total control. Additionally there are no large debates about lyrics, artwork, music or other things. Running a one-man band is pure self-realization.On the other hand, in a band every musician introduces an own sound and influences. As a one-man band you get the entire responsibility.

What’s next on the menu for Eternal Wisdom?
At the moment I’m writing songs for the fourth Eternal Wisdom album called ‘Buried In A Womb’. I hope to do the recordings in the fall of this year. But before that, I will release a double-CD including the ‘In Infinitum’ demo and a reissue of the ‘...Of Eternity’ in celebration of Eternal Wisdom’s tenth anniversary this year.

Well then, I guess we can call it a day for now. Unless of course there is something left that you’d like to mention…
Thanks for the interview and your interest in Eternal Wisdom. It was a pleasure to answer your questions.

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