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Lotus Thief

American Lotus Thief is the odd one out of equation. On their excellent second album 'Gramarye' they are combining like crazy with all kinds of styles and moods causing quite a unique overall sound to emerge. Lords of Metal was obviously very interested and on our request bassist Bezaelith, keyboardist Iva Toric and Leunammi elaborate on the album some more.

By: Roel de Haan | Archive under black metal

Greetings! To start things properly: How are you doing?
Leunammi: That is actually a great question! We are doing great, thanks - and we hope you and your readers are too. It's an exciting time for Lotus Thief with big changes and future plans on the back of the Gramarye release, which is getting lots of warm and positive feedback that we are truly grateful for.

Congratulations with your new album 'Gramarye'! I thought it was most impressive. How are the general reactions to the album? What are your expectations for the album?
Iva Toric: Thank you so much. We are incredibly grateful to be receiving so much praise for ‘Gramarye’. We loved recording these songs and playing them live is proving to be a magical sonic experience. We hope to tour with this album in North America in the coming year and hopefully we will make it to Europe in the coming years. Of course, this album is just the beginning for us. The band has many ideas for new releases and will be recording more music very soon.

Compared to your previous album 'Rervm', on 'Gramarye' I noticed a definite increase in vibrancy and a generally more varied approach in your music. Where did this change come from?
Bezaelith: Glad to hear that this album resonated with you. I actually had to look up the definition of "vibrancy" in order to answer this question, because I wanted to know what you heard! I believe that everyone hears sound slightly differently. Some people can even see colour in sound, which is hinted at in the word "vibrant", in addition to resonance. What I "see" in sound is stories, ideas, places our mind goes, old and new dreams. As I've mentioned in previous interviews, I remember my mother telling me that certain songs brought her back to places in her life in the 60's, where she remembered the minute details of, for example, a high school dance in a gym, what the boys and girls were wearing, the lights, the decorations on the walls, her emotional state, the whole picture of a moment, encapsulated in a song. That is rarely my experience - the difference between ‘Rervm’ and ‘Gramarye’ is that ‘Rervm’ is a philosophical text, and ‘Gramarye’ is a collection of tales focused on magic, sorcery, and the otherworldliness of the human mind. If anything, I think that is what you are hearing. The drive of those varied stories is different than the linear singularity of ‘Rervm’, as it's based on a single text.

While on 'Rervm' you already were fusing different styles and moods, on 'Gramarye' this has been taken to even further heights. Did you have to change your approach to accommodate this?
Bezaelith: I would say, in ‘Rervm’, I was using a single mood, a single philosophical text that was in its time a response to the public superstition that Lucretius and his contemporaries deemed idiotic. The idea that sacrificing your daughter would enable you to win a battle or change the weather was preposterous. That's equally as ridiculous as uneducated voters here in the US equating the election of Trump to the second coming of Christ. Lucretius was pissed that people were basing life or death situations on "the gods". That thread runs through the whole text, selling the idea of faith in humanity, in logos, in gathering evidence. ‘Gramarye’ is totally the reverse. It is the fusion of not only completely different contextual ideations of "magic", but it also spans culture and time. The Book of the Dead over two thousand years old. The Book of Lies, just over a century. ‘Gramarye’ is ideological piecemeal in this way. To accommodate this, I had to find the common thread: human belief, human willpower. There are innumerable accounts of people forging into the impossible by sheer power of will. While scientists can measure and gather evidence, there is the element of the unknown in our belief, and I think even the DESIRE for the unknown to remain unknown as well. This feeling seems to cross time and civilization. I had to use that to tie the songs together.

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Since there are so many elements and styles going on, I wonder how would you describe your music?
Leunammi: We call it Text Metal, which speaks to both our core concept of searching for knowledge through ancient texts and to our love for the genre. Metal itself is insanely vast and offers practically unlimited sub-genres and textures to experiment with as we look for the right sonic landscape that we feel best fits the songs and albums lyrical concepts. The challenge is to find a balanced blend between the atmospheric and stark sides of our sound

The variation between clean female vocals and screams is executed well and the effect of styles of singing is enhanced by this contrast. How do you decide whether a particular style is needed to accompany a certain musical part?
Iva Toric: Gosh that is a hard question to answer because a lot of our musical decisions come from a deep intuition rather than a scientific formula. We hear the music in our minds before we convert it to actual sound, so if we hear ethereal clean harmonies, that's what we try. If we hear harsh vocals and if the intensity of the music calls for that style of singing, we will do it. Then we listen and edit based on what sounds right. Whatever serves the music and conveys the story of the song, that's what we will do.

The sound of the album is clear and defined yet contains a certain natural feel and warmth. Was this the sound you wanted to obtain beforehand? How was the recording-process.
Bezaelith: I can say for certain that I wanted listeners to feel drawn into another world. That feeling of being pulled out of every day existence is something that I get from artists like Black Mountain, particularly their album, ‘In the Future’, or YOB's ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’. Both of those pieces took me out of what I was doing and brought me to the world the music set out for me. While the recording process was pretty much the same as ‘Rervm’ in terms of protocols, the desire for the record feel spellbound was present because that was content and context for the text itself.

I can imagine that since your music is quite unique and diverse, your lyrical subjects might be that as well. Considering the title of the album I suspect it might be about magic and occult matters? Is there a message you want to convey?
Bezaelith: The message is really the realm of belief; that it is human nature to want something more than what is empirically in front of us, to want answers about life after death, or is it possible to will something into existence? While science tracks evidence, there are still so many questions we have not answered and we live in a world where over half the people believe in some kind of higher power. While, to me, this is not necessarily the call to jump on any bandwagon, it is cause to investigate what that 'source' is, and to question people's behavior about that sense of 'source'.

I like the mysterious feel of the album art. How would you say the artwork is connected to the album?
Bezaelith: The artwork is connected to the album, and deals in some detail with the subject matters of the texts themselves. Irrwisch ArtDesign has been a great resource to us, we work well together coming up with artwork that connect directly to the text.

With such an album under your belt, I suspect you will start touring to support it. Any updates in this regard?
Iva: We really love touring - meeting our fans, performing in different venues, and getting to know other musicians is fun and enriching. We want to tour as much as we can as long as it is financially feasible for us. We are still a new band and are trying to figure out how best to tour, where to go, and what kinds of venues to play. As we get more experience I predict you'll see us touring more.

I wonder what the future has in store for Lotus Thief. What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
Iva: I think first and foremost we are going to continue collaborating and writing music that we all love. We will keep growing as individual musicians while we nurture and refine the Lotus Thief sound into something that spans or even rises above genres. We all have such different musical influences and we all bring something really exciting to the table in terms of composing. I think the future holds some new sounds for Lotus Thief as well as new texts to explore. Inevitably new texts will lead to new musical themes and explorations. We are excited about the future and where all our musical ideas will take us.

Thank you very much for your time, I wish you well and as tradition demands it I hereby offer you the final words to our readers.
Bezaelith: Thank you ever so much, Lords of Metal and Roel for this opportunity. To be able to discuss the inner workings of what we do is another piece of what makes the creation of music worthwhile.

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