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Exclusive Interview with Chasma

Your first demo was put out by France’s Aural Offerings. You’ve previously stated your music draws inspiration from the French metal scene so that seems like a good fit for your first release. How did you end up working with them?

We were introduced to Aural Offerings by Christosphe Szpajdel. He had been a big fan of Aaron’s solo ambient black metal project Apparitia (circa 2007) and the original Chasma demo and drew several early logos for us. John (Aural Offerings) heard the demo and asked to release it on cassette.

From your first recordings until now, it’s obvious that Chasma has a specific sonic offering in mind, and this project was created for a purpose and not just to be another band in the gaping chasm (sorry) of the metal world. How was the idea born and what are you trying to accomplish with your sound?

We had been long time fans of black metal but were unhappy with where many bands of late had been taking it. We wanted to create a sound that would never portray any kind of false emotion. Our music reflects the entire span of emotional states that we experience in this life.

he Northwest black metal scene is known for its unique, hypnotic sound. Do you feel a part of the whole “Cascadian” movement? What do you think it is about this area that provides an almost mystical quality to the music?

That’s a strange question for us to answer, we do and don’t. Obviously, we live here in Portland. We are inspired by our natural surroundings and the spectrum of natural life cycles we are surrounded by. But as far as being part of a movement? I don’t know. We have never called ourselves Cascadian Black Metal. Other people have put that label on us in the past but we don’t tend to get included by other self proclaimed Cascadian bands for reasons I’m not exactly sure of. We feel more connected to the European metal movement than most of what’s going on here in North America.

Some of your online presence contains the phrases “bright metal” and “noir nouveau,” which seems a pretty apt descriptions for your expansive take on black metal. How do you view your style in comparison/contrast to terms of what other bands in the genre are doing?

There are a handful of bands that we have played with/listen to that are pushing genre barriers and bridging seemingly impossible musical gaps. We put our own twist on what we like and try to push music in the direction we think is the most entrancing. Chasma veers to the more ethereal side of extreme metal and I think that our peers/fans can spot our influences from a mile away. If I had to compare us to our peers, I would say we probably sound like we listen to more post-rock than they do.

Instead of traditional song structures, your music tends to follow a much more wandering path full of tempo changes and crescendos that gives it a very ethereal quality. How do the songs ultimately take shape?

Chasma has an almost mysterious writing process, it feels like we pull these songs from places forbidden physicality. We will literally just show up and create something from nothing without even having to talk about it. I feel like we can just feel each other’s energy and translate that into something massive, moving, and audible.

Your band is clearly drawn to symbols, as the same z-like figure is featured on a lot of your artwork, as well as your drummer having it tattooed across his chest. What’s the meaning behind it and how does it fuel your music?

Symbols are powerful in that they can encompass a multitude of concepts, statements, powers, and emotions beyond human tongue. The Emblazonment symbolizes what drives the three of us to play luminous music together, and how the processes of music are a tangible expression of the dynamics of the universe and in turn, existence as a whole. It is a symbol that represents our pursuit of the mastery of all experiential dimensions. We actually all have this sigil tattooed on us.
Codex Constellatia

The name of your next release is Codex Constellatia, and combined with the cover art it seems you’re trying to focus on cosmic themes. Is this a concept album?

I guess I just don’t understand what would make an album “conceptual.” The album is cosmic in it’s lyrical and visual content, but every album I have ever been a part of has had it’s own unique conceptual basis. We weren’t going for something we could call a “concept album,” just an album that would move us inside.

Despite your short existence, you’ve already experienced quite a few line-up changes in terms of guitarists. Has keeping Chasma together been a struggle or were these just typical growing pains?

Keeping any band together in the midst of the monotonous drudgery that is adult life on this planet is going to be extremely hard. I have been in more than a few bands ravaged by heavy drug use and I have learned that these changes are just the band evolving, the fittest surviving. Sometimes you just have to trim the fat. I believe it is a genuine pleasure for all of us currently in the band to keep our shit together as a musical entity and as people in everyday life.

Releasing vinyl continues to be more and more commonplace for modern metal bands. You released Declarations of the Grand Artificer in a number of different colors for much cheaper than most records sell for nowadays. Are you hoping to increase fans’ consumption of this format, and do you have any special affinity towards it?

We had nothing to do with pricing of the last record, although we would prefer our albums be reasonably priced. Mylene Sheath is a phenomenal label who is dedicated to making the art of the vinyl record experience as exciting and available as possible. We all love vinyl, and in the end believe it is the truest format quality-wise, and I do not need to mention the satisfaction of collecting vinyl records. Codex Constellatia will definitely be available on vinyl and CD via Moribund Cult and cassette through Eternal Warfare Records.

Declarations of the Grand Artificer contained a bonus track called “Dimensions in Lament.” Why was this chosen to be released apart from the regular album?

The song was done as an experimental improvised recording session several years ago and was never released because very shortly after that song was recorded we had to fire our old guitar player. We knew we couldn’t ever have it pressed because it was no longer relevant. Ryan had the idea of using it as a bonus track for people who ordered the vinyl, which we all agreed was a good idea.

What can we expect from the upcoming album?

Codex Constellatia is the truest representation of Chasma as a whole. This album marks a new and much more mature chapter in the life of the band. We recorded Codex with Adam Pike who has done records for Black Elk, Red Fang, Elitist, etc. After we had it all laid down, we sent it to Colin Marston at The Thousand Caves (of Krallice, Dysrythmia, Behold the Arctopus fame) to have it mastered. This record spans many genres and maintains a powerful, yet melancholic atmosphere. If you like black metal clichés, you’ll fuckin’ hate this thing.

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