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Church Ov Melkarth

Submitted by RamonLP4 on October 1, 2024 – 7:06 amOne Comment

Church Ov Melkarth (Photo by Michael O'Dwyer)

Church Ov Melkarth is a brutal, uncompromising mix of Metal, Industrial, Dark Ambient, and Noise. That may not be a combination that screams commercial success but that’s not the point – being true to yourself and dedicated to your art is. The occult, Jung, Lovecraft, mythology, and many dark themes are riddled throughout CovM work. Consider the mythic four album cycle the band is currently in the middle of producing. The first, the Sermon of Hate, is a double album that introduces the characters and their motivations for destroying the Gods. In the second album, Sermon of Steel, they develop a weapon that destroys memories thus depriving the Gods and their religions their power. The third album, The Sermon of Defeat, involves the weapon invoking the 7th unholy Sephira that guarantees that nobody wins the epic battle. In the final album, The Severing the Neck of the Orobouros, the characters seek to kill the World Serpent only to discover everything they have done is for nothing – a recurring constant. Intrigued, I went to the deep dark woods of north of Houston to invoke the mastermind behind the Church, Jvstin Whitney.

FPH – You deal with a lot of dark themes. Why?

Whitney - We’re dark people who see the world for what it really is and it’s not a pretty place. In the real world, you friends and family die. Over the years, CovM skewed more to the dark side but as we grew up we found there’s a balance between light and dark – that is what we try to find within ourselves. Some people can’t accept their inner darkness but we chose to tap into it as opposed to saying “Hey, I’m a good person.” Sometimes I’m a shitty person and sometimes I’m nice guy - it’s all a neutral balance. What centers us is aligning ourselves with the darkness in our souls because that’s who we are inside. Why should people punish us for that? We’re trying to attain balance just like the people who go to church who try to find their spiritual path of life.

FPH –Your shows open with a ceremony. Explain that for us.

Whitney - It’s a ritual using Thelemic ceremonial magic to align ourselves to the darkness. We’re trying to show people what’s inside our heads and we’re doing that so they can attain a point of focus as well. We’ll have people who are into Satan there but that’s not necessarily my thing; I find Satan to be an overly contrived character. I consider him more of a tool than a way of life because Satanism is just a backwards mirror of Christianity. If you’re yelling stupid shit that pisses people off (the same exact same shit that pisses you off about Christians), that doesn’t help anyone. You’re just replacing one name with another. That’s not finding balance. You’re too skewed to the other side.

FPH – You combine Dark Ambient, Noise, and Metal. What do those have in common?

Whitney - Despite the fact that they are vastly different types of music, they all have the same general ideology and life view – they tap into an inner darkness. Early Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy isn’t fucking pop; it’s dark stuff addressing serious personal issues within those artists. Dark Ambiance is the introspective side while Noise is a violent outburst of the same feelings. Noise wants to destroy someone’s ears and to be as harsh as possible but the same emotions and mindset are there in Dark Ambiance. Metal is in-between.

That is why you have a lot of cross-genre artists like Mortiis who played in a Metal a band, then played Ambient and, now he plays Industrial. Part of that is growing up and tastes changing. People don’t want to admit it but, at some point, you hit a wall with Metal - the same with any genre. Few bands keep doing stuff worth listening to after four or five albums. It’s about admitting to yourself that you change. If you are playing the same stuff over and over, you compromise yourself - you’ve decided to sell records rather than be an artist.

FPH - How do you get past that wall?

Whitney - Listening to different music. I got bored with Metal so I started listening to Dark Ambient and Industrial for a few years and then went back to Metal. I’m not saying abandon the genre entirely but to reach out. You need to be fluid and continually shifting because once you start stagnating you’ve made a decision to give up whether or not you’re conscious of it. I don’t want to give up. I want to keep changing, learning, and striving.

FPH – Are there any local bands who do the same?

Whitney - Absu and Averse Sefira have continually improved. Cronophage, are in the same mindset as me. A lot of bands that are critical to the scene like Adumus, Morbus 666, Imprecation, and Blaspherian are playing good music and making it for themselves. Those bands don’t care if they get big; they are going to do it no matter what. That’s a dedication you have to respect. They’re not fake.

The fake people are the ones who don’t come to a local show. A big band like Dimmu Borgir plays and I’ll see 2,000 people! I never see them [at a local show] EVER!! If you say you love Metal so much that you’ll live and die for it…then where the FUCK are you?! They don’t care and they’re not as committed as they claim.

FPH –The band’s mythology is a little vague. Why is that?

Whitney - We like confusion. When people hear noise in The Sermon of Deception, they don’t understand there are six or seven palindromic layers of keyboards throughout the whole 40 minute track.

FPH – That’s a clever trick but what are you trying to say by doing that?

Whitney - Why believe anyone’s dogma? We could just as easily be lying to you.

Church Ov Melkarth perform Monday, October 23,2011 at Mango’s Café with Cronophage and Barghest.

Look for the new Church Ov Melkarth/Cronophage split LP soon.

Special thanks to Jef With One F for his help with this article.

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