By: Metalist NY Magazine
With: Aviv Hadari
Many a band in Israel face a difficult time now. Spawn of Evil, Magor, Matricide and many others, are hitting that time of releasing their first album. That fight or flight statement that will show what the band is made of. Magor, as aforementioned, is one of the most promising of candidates. With an onslaught of beautifully crafted Melodic Black Metal tracks that have something for the most easy going of Dimmu Borgir fans to the most hardened Gorgoroth maniacs, Drawned to the Dark is shaping up to be quite a beastly album. Before their first headlining show, I had a chance to (this time physically!) sit down with frontman Aviv “I don't have a Black Metal nickname” Hadari and discuss all things Magor.
Benek- Hello man, how are you?
Aviv- Good, good
B- So, your new album Drawn to the Dark has been finished, and is now expecting release, how do you feel about the finished product?
A- It's been finished for a while. Which is basically very common for bands in Israel, especially bands like Matricide, or Spawn of Evil. Other bands who have been there for a while and are now releasing their debut record. So its kind of common, but I’m sure that even in those bands that writing an album is not a year's work, it's a few years work! I can tell you for us it's been about ten years work, this whole album. So we're very confident and very happy with what we have. It's expected to be...good (laughs)
B- You say ten years work, but for a functioning and hard working band, it's very difficult to keep that kind of spacing with your work. If it took you so long to conceive this album, what's your plan going forwards?
A- Well this is the first album, so i'm guessing, but when you do something for the first time you're unsure of yourself. So everything we've done from the writing to the music production, to recording and even the artwork is not only a process but a learning process. So it takes time, and it takes more than when you know what youo're doing, and that's one of the reason why it usually takes as long for the first time.
B- How does it vary from earlier Magor materials?
A- The first thing that's noticeable is music production. I'll give you an example, i'd say Magor the single, when we released that, the opening was different. On the album, we don't put as much strings in the beginning, which we did on the single version. Or Mania Depressia, in 2009, it came outwith an acoustic guitar opening, which is not how it sounds like today without the acoustic opening. Again, we've changed things. Their subtle, but we've changed them. So you got songs like Mania Depressia, Magor, Blackened Holocaust Stars and the Repear's Darkest Hours, they're all on the album, but now with a different approach and cut.
B-Also, I know the album is self released, how did that decision come about?
A-we recorded the album, and it's not that it took ten years to write the whole thing, but it was the first time you write a song, and deal with the industry. So the process took us a major amount of time. So when we recorded the album, finished it, and even the artwork was done, so even though the “product” was ready to be signed and released. From that time, we gave it a fair chance of sending it to labels and using all our leads and “connections” that we had. Even friends and we gave it our best shot like every other band. We waited about a year and half until we decided to just release it. I look around and you see what's going on, and what's going on right now is that bands are self releasing their album. Bands that have their first album. Signing to a label on your debut, as a Melodic Black Metal band from Israel is virtually impossible. It happens, i'm not saying it doesn't happen, you got Sonne Adam, Ferium and Eternal Grey, but we wanted to release it.
B- Why was Essence to the Oblivion chosen as the first clip? What was the idea behind it?
A- Initially we decided to print 500 CDs, with 3 songs off the album. We chose 3 songs, one which was Abject Humiliation, another which is Avelim Me'ever Lashachar, and the last was Essence to the Oblivion. Of these three, we decided to take one song and make a video clip of it. Now, Abject Humiliation was too long, it's about 8 minutes and 11 seconds, and then Avelim Me'ever Lashachar is in Hebrew, and we wanted to speak to an international crowd. So we were left with Essence to the Oblivion which isn't short, but works.
B- Speaking of lyrics, Magor is one of the few bands that isn't afraid to use Hebrew. I mean isn't afraid in the way that, unlike Orphaned Land or Salem, the Hebrew isn't sprinkled in, and the song isn't altered. You just find a way to make it fit, how different is that?
A- For me, it's not that much. I think that, it's not that different , working in Hebrew. I consider my main languages to be English and Hebrew, I suck at both evenly (laughs.) I can fairly articulate myself in both languages, and the Hebrew language has enough to offer. If you read enough poetry, if you read enough literature, there are words that can fairly describe what we're trying to describe which is darkness and oblivion.
B- It kind of reminds me of the way Norwegian bands use Norwegian in their lyrics in the 90's...
A- That's exactly the point, we are from here. I want to write and sing in Hebrew as well, because I think we deserve it. Our country deserves it, our people deserve it, and if anybody else doesn't like it then fuck them. I guess it's basically a part of the general fuck you, i'm pretty sure that when Dimmu Borgir wrote their songs, and decided that some of them will be in Norwegian, they didn't think “oh but what if it won't talk tot he bigger crowd?” If you like the music enough, and you're really that interested in the meaning, you'll go look it up and figure out the lyrics yourself. I know that I myself have done that, as well as other Metal fans I know. Because that's how much we love our music!
B- Also, Kobi Farhi of Orphaned Land has reportedly made a guest appearance on the album, how did that come about?
A- The one that was in one connection with him is our drummer, Roy Rocco. Rocco has been an Orphaned Land fan since I knew him, and that's like forever. He goes as far as Hyde Park, and ICQ, that kind of era! When the Orphaned Land forum was the hottest thing going on, and Orphaned Land really represented the Metal in Israel. Rocco was a part of that, and when I met him, we used to go to shows and people came up and said hi to us, people we've never met before, you'd meet them on the internet. One time we we're at a Salem concert, and Kobi Farhi said hi, Rocco told me “you see that guy, that's the singer for Orphaned Land!” That didn't mean that much to me at the time,as I didn't know them that much at the time, but you could see he was a die hard fan. Orphaned Land has also always been connected to their fans, so Rocco was basically the one that took us that step forward and asked him if he would guest on the album. He agreed, and it was really fun, he's a good guy and very professional, it was fun working with him in the studio, even if it was only for a day of recording! He guests on 3 songs on the album.
B- What are some of the lyrical themes of the album?
A- If there's one thing that kind of sometimes pisses me off is concept albums. I don't like it that much, sometimes it's nice but most of the time I doon't like it. Because when you listen to the album you know you're only gonna get one thing. You get a whole story, a whole whatever, my point is that every song on this album touches different stories in my life, or time in my life. Because it's a song, because it's semi poetry, I portray it in a way that is very dramatic, very dark, and that involves a lot of negative images. A lot of death, destruction, agony, and depression, so even if the song varies, if I wrote the song about this or that, the lyrical theme of it is portraying it in that kind of light.
B- I ask that because, Magor is a band that is known for their lyrical themes that are not exactly commonplace. Mania Depressia or Manic Depression for example, which is a topic not many Black Metal bands cover, where do you find the majority of your inspiration?
A- Shit that happens to me in life, really bad shit. I mean, bad shit will happen to you in your life, all the time. If you find the strength to take that and turn that into art, then I think that's a blessing. Because if you can take the shittiest, darkest times you've experienced, and take that, put that into an artistic place. That's basically what i'm doing. From the worst things that happened to me, if you want to ask me what are the worst experiences you've been through? Loss, sickness, death, depression, all you have to do is read the lyrics. Sometimes you won't understand specifically what happened to me, or if it was a Tuesday or a Wednesday, but you will understand what it involves!
B- What bands have influenced you along your way?
A- That's a tough question. Well what we're looking is not to be as Black Metal as we can be. A lot of BM bands said that they want to take Black Metal to a pplace where it “hasn't been.” I guess that's a bit of what we're trying to do. But we don't want to be pretentious about it, we don't want to make a revolution, we're not trying to do anything except for play our music, enjoy that, and if we can take any influence from whatever musci we listen to, then we'll do it. As long as it sounds good in context, good. I can't name any specific ones, but you can hear it in our music, obviously Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Dissection. How can I put that in a certain genre, classic Black Metal? Mostly that, and any influences of stuff that I won't even say. I won't even say because it's ridiculous shit.
B- Your original demo, contained three songs which have been edited and changed for the album , are there any plans to make it accessible/down-loadable/purchasable for your fans?
A- Again? We have a few copies left. Around 30 copies left, I have to check it. We have a few 10's of copies, are we gonna make it available? Unless there's gonna be a demand. If I can picture myself releasing the Mania Depressia single again, it'll have to be after several albums. Because there'll have to be a demand for that.
B- You know, for a band with only a 3 CD demo and a single so far, Magor has had some impressive feats to say the least, opening for such international staples as Rotting Christ twice! As well Septicflesh and Moonsorrow, how do you get by on such a limited repertoire of music?
A- Well, the question is if the repertoire is that small? I think that it appears to be. Not a lot of material, but it is! On the CD you have a full hour of music. A very common “problem” with Black Metal, or MBM, is that songs can be long. I'm talking about an average of 5-8 minutes, and when you're opening for a band, you're going to have to give 30-45 minutes set. If you have an hour of music, you can do a fair amount of shows with a lot of songs not being heard. So the question is how do you manage that? We've played a couple of shows, in the last few years, last two years, we played a few shows with a few songs that are not even on the album! And adding that to the album we have, alongside the upcoming album, it's a fair amount of music. Also, we've never done a full show, never ever, this release show, on the 1st of February, is our first full live set.
B- How has the scene changed since 12 years ago? And do you think for the better or worse?
A- Of course for the better. It got better, it got bigger, because information is so easy today! When I wanted to go to a Metal concert, I had to wait for Yishai Sweartz to come to my highschool, and put a poster up. Which is by the way, the same highschool he went to, i'm pretty sure. He'd come to Ostrovoski, put a flyer for Rotting Christ, Ancient Rites or whoever. The first show I've ever been to, was White Skull! And I heard that through fucking Metal Hammer Israel! That was the only way of knowing if a Metal band came to Israel at the time. The internet was shit at the time, it was just not as easy as clicking a button! Now you can know if there's a show in Ra'anana, in this shitty place where we got kicked off stage (laughs.)
B- Do you feel there is a greater worldwide interest in Israeli Metal?
A- Some, I can't say that right now our scene is at it's finest or peak in a global sense. I can say that a band like Orphaned Land represents us very well. I can say that there are a lot of good Metal bands here in Israel lately. They've broken boundaries and explored new worlds. But even back in the day, in the early 2000, especially in Black Metal, we seek music from other countries. Black Metal heads, we heard about Salem, Arallu, and bands that aren't Orphaned Land. You'd meet a German dude, in a Metal fest in 2004 or 2005, and he'd have an Arallu album on his ipod (which was fucking brand new at the time) and that was amazing. How the hell do you know about that band? I know those dudes! And he'd be impressed. So in the Black Metal scene it's very common to seek other bands, new bands, but now it’s not even an effort. Here's a band from India, Taiwan, Brazil or whatever in whateverland. Do I think Israel is noticed more? I think we're doing a good job, but other countries are doing a good job. Because I know for a fact that no one is selling CDs, you've got to shoot sparks out of your ass. Bands that could preform back in the day, they can preform the shit out of themselves as that's all that's left.
B- Also Magor is known as a band that is very supportive of the scene, both behind the curtains as people who work with the producer Yishai Sweartz of Raven Metal and avid concert goers, is there no breath of competition in the Israeli scene?
A- If there's no competition in the Israel scene? There is. Recently we had an obvious competition between producers. But between bands, I guess i'd say yes, but then again, the competition has a limit to its brutality. Because we're a small country, and if you fuck some one up the ass, they'll have a chance to fuck you too. You bet they'll take it. We're not in England, France, or German, where the countries are humongous and fuck it I don't give a shit whoever I have to step on to move forward. Here you should care enough, as you'll meet them, in the clubs, pubs, shows, they'll be there. Because if their worth anything, they'll keep at it. Yeah sometimes our paths cross, but we try to be as nice as we can be to anyone, and as supportive as we can be to everyone, which wasn't common back in the day in BM bands in Israel. Because they had an attitude of we don't give a fuck about anyone. That's cool, that's Black Metal and awesome for you, but not for us. As we wanted to work with other bands, and it's shooting yourself in the leg, if you want to act like the prince of darkness on stage, that's cool, but leave it onstage. Being an asshole to a 16 year old kid that thinks your awesome because of that show won't get you anywhere.
B- What is your opinion of the many up and coming bands in Israel? Any favorites?
A- Yes, from the new ones I like Dim Aura a lot. I think that they're kind of keeping the core of Black Metal hot in Israel, they're keeping it alive and I like it. I was at their release show, and a few others, and I like em very much. Other upcoming bands, I mean you know. Seniority is a part of being alive and existing in Israel. If you're a young bang, you can start a band tomorrow, and break it after half a year or a month, but it'll take time for people to notice you even inside the domestic scene. You have to do enough shows, work with enough people to be remembered enough. As bands come and go all the time.
B- So what are the plans after the album?
B- Any names or specifics?
A- We're talking to Rotting Christ and I hope it'll go well and work. We hope to open for them in Europe, the problem is that their not going to be in Europe for a while now. What we gotta do is either wait for them to come back to Europe or look to open for a bigger band. The problem is finding a band in your genre, and that their audience will like you. Hopefully we'll get that, and the destination is Europe, because you know, it's fucking Europe!
B- Speaking of tours, Magor is known as an extremely ferocious live band, what would you say are your secrets for a good live show?
A- Do not stand still. I think people like visual stimulation, as it's all we have left. You can't even release a song today, and rely on audio stimulation. You gotta move, make it interesting. Even if you're dark and convincing, you have to be a good performer. There are bands that don't move fast, and don't jump up and down, but the way they move is magic. It's theatrical, and that's a big part of it. Make the people to move.
B- Where would you theoretically want to see yourself in the future with the band in say, a year or two?
A-I guess, in two years, finishing the second album after touring a fuckload. Getting the album out there, getting as much out of it as we can and as far and wide as we can. Working on the second album and releasing it, hopefully getting a record deal obviously. But we even if we don't, it's cool. As long as we're doing what we love. Bigger, better things!
B- Any last words?
A- Run! For your lives...