How has your response been so far with Black Majesty Invoked?
The response to Black Majesty Invoked was very positive.  To this day it has never been officially released, I handed it out myself to a very select group of individuals and bands..the two tracks contained on that tape are the very first Pestilent Grave recordings and I basically used it to see what kind of reaction people had to it..whether it was worth carrying on or not.  But as I said, the response was very good...and so here we are

Can you give us a brief history of the band.
My ideas and concepts for this project were conceived through May-July in 2008.  I had played in a few bands in the years previous, but not really in any proper creative capacity...I wrote the music for whatever instrument I was playing at the time and that was it.  So after a while I felt the need to start a solo project, something through which I could express myself fully without having to deal with the limitations or politics that other band members inevitably bring with them.  Also just because of my nature I much prefer working alone.  So in early July I recorded the Black Majesty Invoked tape and that was the start of it all..

Is there a big scene for Black Metal in Utrecht, Netherlands?
There are a lot of individuals here into the scene that's for sure, but unfortunately there aren't many bands or gigs here... I usually have to travel out of town to catch a decent BM gig

What do you find appealing about the old school black metal sound compared to the sound now a days with this new black metal age.
Although most of the stuff I listen to the most has no noticeable difference between "old" and "new" BM...In general nowadays some stuff sounds too well-produced and uses too much electronic shit for my liking..I prefer the purely raw or minimalist stuff and usually get put off by material that is polished to perfection and whatnot.  I think all that detracts from the intensity more often than not.  When I listen to music I want it to enable me to go to dark places in my mind...not just make me think about a band playing in some recording studio.  Having said that I can think of more than a few old albums that are too well-produced for my taste.

What can you tell us about your label.
Svartgalgh is a small (but well known and respected in the (underground) DIY label here in the Netherlands with fairly elite tastes, they deal in occult music only...mainly black metal, ambient and drone stuff

What kind of audience would you say your music is for.
It's definitely (and intentionally) not for everyone.  There are a lot of people that would be put off from my music just by the sound quality of it...but I don't want people like that listening to it anyway!  This is pure underground shit, in concept, ideology and sound, meant for those who will appreciate it and to deter those who won't.

What bands in particular would you say helped to form your sound.
Mayhem circa 1986 - 1991 were a big influence on the early material, but some of the other bands I draw inspiration from are the likes of Nartvind, Taake, Deathcult, early Bathory, Breizh Occult, Iconoclasm, Coldworld, Bilskirnir, Craft, Hellhammer, Incest (Fra), Graveland, Kvist, early Burzum, Blasphemous Evil, Carpathian Forest, bands of the LLN and Lunar Aurora

Do you have any higher powers that exist for you?
Satan, Kali, the forces of Kaos and to a very minor extent, certain Nordic entities

When you write songs, do you start with a concept, or a riff or anything else?
I always start off with a specific concept, and from that I devise lyrics..and only after the lyrics are done do I start writing the music.  The guitars first, and after that the drums.

What is the concept behind the song "Fucked Up And Insane / Invoking The Lost Goddess"
That track was originally 2 separate tracks, one following on from the other, that I decided to combine into one.  It's the most personal song on the "Esoteric Blasphemy" album, apart from "Bloody Release" so I'm disinclined to give too much information on it...but suffice it to say that it's a journey starting in the blackest pits of despair and ending in the heights of power and depravity..

List 3 bands that you feel contributed the most to black metal as an evolving genre.
I couldn't possibly list just 3...Black metal has so many sub-genres with a lot of bands in each who have contributed to their evolution...Aside from the obvious Mayhem, Bathory, Burzum and Darkthrone, bands that spring to my mind are early Limbonic Art, old Lunar Aurora, early Marduk but I could list a lot more.

Looking back at your work, do you have a fav song from what you have recorded?
"Virtuous Self Mutilation" is definitely my favorite so far..although I like "Black Majesty Invoked" also..

Are there any other one or 2 man bands you currently like?
Ad Hominem, Bilskirnir, Abyssic Hate, Alatyr, Coldworld, Deathrow (Ita), Lutomysl, Anal Blasphemy, Taake..a probably a few more who escape my mind at this moment.

Does Pestilent Grave have any split releases? Do you think its easier to get a label to put your material out if its going to be a split?
There aren't any splits released at the moment, although I am working on one as we speak..which is promising to be quite special if all goes well.  As for whether it's easier for labels to release split material...I really couldn't say,  but I don't think it makes much difference in the end.

Do you think it is necessary to release a demo first when first starting out other than trying for a full length CD?
In my experience it was worthwhile, but not really necessary, to release a demo first if, only to test the water...Personally I don't see the point in going to the trouble of recording a full length CD unless you have at least a rough idea of how it may be received first

Who are your label interest?
Over the course of this project I have had offers from a number of labels and I have been signed to two thus far..but Svartgalgh Records and I are currently maintaining a very good relationship and they have done their utmost for this band so I don't see myself changing anytime in the foreseeable future

Where would you like to see Pestilent Grave band in 5 years?
To be honest I haven't really given it any thought, I tend to just focus on the present and give that my full attention...hopefully by then this project will have gained a slightly larger following than at present...but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Interviewed by Herlaka

December 2009