I have, once again, had the opportunity to sit down with Lörd Matzigkeitus for a conversation about a project he’s involved with. This time, we discussed The Stench of Amalthia, the latest offering by The Projectionist, his main band/project. In addition, We are excited to share an exclusive first listen to the track Perfumes from the forthcoming album and I share some thoughts regarding the album in general. Up first, Perfumes! Press play, then jump down to read the full interview and review. Thanks again to Lörd Matzigkeitus and Moribund Records for providing us this opportunity.
Hayduke X: Congratulations about the upcoming release of The Stench of Amalthia. How are you feeling about it?
Lörd Matzigkeitus: Thank you. As our first for Moribund Cult, which has long been my favorite record label, my anticipation is high. It’s been a long time coming. I wrote it over 3 years ago while working in Newfoundland.
HX: Wow! I had no idea the album had been in the works that long. How did you end up working with Moribund Cult?
LM: I’m always ten or twenty steps ahead…. This all came about when discussing the details of the LIVE SUFFER DIE album and Odin and I had mutual grief over our lost friend Lance Gifford. Over a long phone call, we’d both expressed being huge fans of King Diamond, when I’d mentioned I was working on a black metal opera that was very much akin in terms of being storyline driven to King Diamond’s solo records, but extremely black metal.
He reached out to me after having heard it, saying the whole compound at the Moribund armory had been blown away by it and he had to have it.
I’m told they listened to it non-stop for several weeks.
HX: For the uninitiated, what do you mean by the term ‘black metal opera’?
LM: An opera is not confined to the notion of classical music; it is simply a story set to music. What I’ve done is written nine Shakespearean plays and set them to black metal. There are characters who each have a different voice assigned to them, a plot, sound effects. It is in fact, a night at the theater in your mind. And obsidian black. Do not play this album thinking you’ll find anything akin to symphonic black metal.
This album represents opera number two.
The stage is set!
Make no mistake. Though The Projectionist uses black metal as a medium for their art on The Stench of Amalthia, this is not a black metal album. At least, not in the traditional sense. There are tremolo riffs. There are blast beats. There are crackling, blackened vocals, harsh and disturbing. It becomes clear very early on, however, that The Stench of Amalthia is musical theatre – opera specifically – of the darkest and most evil variety. The story opens slowly, with a bleak and ominous introduction to various characters. A creeping dread crawls stealthily up your spine as you listen to the opening acts of this unfolding nightmare.
HX: Visits From The Nighthag would be the first?
LM: Visits from the NightHag is the first. Yes.
HX: Why did you decide to move the project to black metal operas? If Visits from the Nighthag is the first, then the earlier works are more traditional black metal?
LM: I got an idea, sitting across from Demoniarch over ales one day. He’d spoken of having sleep paralysis that night and spoke of the European folklore of the NightHag. I went home to write it out, and ended up using it as a beckon to create a fictional circumstance where my Grandfather was alive inside this story. I grew addicted to writing the story because it began to be a world I created to spend time with him. Where he was alive and could walk. He died in my arms due to complications from diabetes, where they’d removed his legs…. So you see, inside the story, as it came out of me, I was in communion with him
HX: That’s incredible!
LM: After that, once NightHag was ambitiously realized. I wanted to use the band, named for him being a Projectionist in Germany after the War….to tell the rest of the story. To be the Projectionist, showing the films.
HX: Ah, I see. Is The Stench of Amalthia a sequel in any way? Or is it just the next story to be “projected” out to your audience?
LM: Amalthia is….an aside. In the grand scheme of the saga. It does relate to the overall story, but I cannot reveal too much. There is….a shocking end.
Dr. Bendix? Amalthia Grahame? Evelyn? Who are these people and how are they connected? Without giving away too much, Dr. Bendix is the doctor of aging film star Amalthia Grahame. He hires a private nurse, Evelyn, to help care for Amalthia. One of my favorite moments in the story is the arrival of Evelyn at the door of Amalthia. She is welcomed in by Grahame, with the words: “You can make us tea.” The tone of the statement and the music surrounding it set me hackles on edge. Evelyn, so innocent, goes off to complete the required task.
HX: Gotcha! Well, without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the plot of Amalthia?
LM: Amalthia Grahame is a withered, old film noire actress long past her golden era at 96 years old. Her Doctor (Dr. Bendix…from NightHag 1 and 2) decides she requires a live-in nurse to care for her final days in the palatial home she dwells in. Strange and unusual things begin to transpire as spells are cast, forces are summoned and the nurse begins to rapidly weaken as Amalthia astonishes all by returning to form… Dr. Bendix grows concerned when his nurses cease to check in and goes to investigate. What scene he happens upon….astounds and terrifies him.
HX: Sounds intriguing! And as someone who has had an early opportunity to hear the opera, it is intriguing!
LM: Indeed you have…
HX: Tell me about the key characters and the actors who play them.
LM: Dr. Bendix is played by Caeser Tiberius (Ides of Winter/ex-Dead Jesus) I particularly enjoyed his very outgoing and sarcastic performance on this album. When he was in Dead Jesus, he had this ear piercing shriek that I loved, which he hadn’t done since. As a writer, knowing he was returning to the role, I mayyyy have manipulated the plot intentionally to make him scream his bloody guts out. Aven Haunts is a longtime friend of mine and she voices both the timid and fragile Nurse Evelyn and Amalthia Grahame. Those recording sessions I acted as her director and her performance as first old haggard Lady Amalthia then the boisterous elegant youthful Amalthia were quite engaging to bring forth from her. At once during recording for the elder Amalthia she started coughing. I was about to edit it out when she pointed out that old ladies do cough and insisted I leave it in.
HX: It adds to the authenticity, I would say.
LM: I myself voice the narrator and perform Nattramn-seque backing shrieks to her Amalthia once things unravel. I’d further add my daughter performs some backing vocals on “A Startling Housecall” she was seven at the time.
HX: An early start to a budding acting career?
LM: When I came home from work she was imitating my scream. I said “Do that again, but say Amalthia.” She said nooooooooooo. I proclaimed “do it again and you can stay up ten mins past bedtime.” She ended up on the album.
HX: Hahahaha. Very nice! Do you write all the lines of dialogue as well as song lyrics?
LM: Yes. It’s written as a play without music in mind initially. I don’t confine what I’m trying to say by making it fit inside a musical perimeter. The music is built around the words.
And so the story progresses. I don’t wish to go into too much detail regarding the storyline, as I think that is best experienced by listening. However, there are some hints in the interview included here-in. I refer you to those. Musically, Covetous, which is the third track is where the first hints appear that this whole thing is a runaway train primed to go off the tracks. The screams and howls by vocalist Lörd Matzigkeitus are utterly haunting and so incredibly powerful. Waves of riffs come forth from Parageist and Destroyer. Malphus blasts the artillery, measured either galloping or slow burning as the need presents itself. Orpheus is credited with orchestrations. In addition, the voice acting of Aven Haunts (Evelyn/Amalthia) and Caesar Tiberius (Dr. Bendix) round out this motley cast with their electric performances in their respective roles.
HX: When we spoke about the Live Suffer Die release, we spent some time talking about your background both as a writer and in the world of music. Do you also have a background in Theatre?
LM: I do not. My onstage experience is solely based on when I let Lörd Matzigkeitus take over my body. I cannot be held responsible for what he does.
I have however studied Shakespeare since the age of ten.
HX: Do you view Lörd Matzigkeitus as a separate entity?
LM: Lörd Matzigkeitus and I are one…. but…. when I’m him, I’m not who I am in real life. I suppose there is a deep schizophrenia that has evolved over the years being him. When I wear the mask of his face; I’m him. I’m not RHD anymore. He behaves differently than me. He’s rather insane. He’s hunger, vile and nasty. I quite prefer being him honestly.
He’s less….accountable for himself.
HX: I can see that. A persona where you can be more free.
LM: In that respect he’s more real than I am.
HX: In a sense, Hayduke X, is a somewhat different person than RJ, though it’s only in words for me. I’m allowed to be more open about what I write.
LM: Art is catharsis.
HX: Absolutely. I feel that even in my review writing, especially when I include some fictional elements in my reviews. Let’s back up a bit. What is the history of The Projectionist? I read that it was initially a side project, but has, at some point, become your main focus.
LM: I was in a black metal band (which I refuse to name) and had been physically working out quite a lot in preparation for the recording of our first full length. I was in the best shape of my life. My lung capacity was soaring…. I ….was….ready….. And recording was stalled. I wanted to capture how I felt… wanted to record….something. Destroyer and I started working on it as an Lörd Matzigkeitus solo album. I thought I’d do a record in support of my first book “Catharsis Spoke her Virtuous Evil” and we enlisted the help of Parageist and a few others.” Isophillic Dementia Overtures” was born, but there was some really black metal material left over…. When insecurities arose inside the black metal band I was in regarding the band name being Lörd Matzigkeitus …. I changed it to The Projectionist. After my Grandfather.
The situation with that black metal band became very bitter and volatile, but by that time we’d already written half of “Exalted Solitude” So the Projectionist became my main focus and we parted ways, with much bad blood between.
HX: That’s rough! Has The Projectionist been a more stable setting for your vision?
LM: It is….my vision realized by those most loyal to me.
HX: That has to feel good. A much better way to work. Is the band all local to you or is this a distance project?
LM: We are within proximity. Only a three hour drive apart. We rehearse. We are a functional band and have shows planned. Once the plague either kills everyone off or relinquishes.
The shocking conclusion
Bloodshed. Violence. Darkness. Madness. Sorcery. And that’s just the music. The Stench of Amalthia is a tormented, horror-drenched journey into the blackest madness. Dubbed a black metal opera, it could as easily be called a stage horror with black metal soundtrack. A new and unique variation of the dark arts, The Projectionist calls forth madness in a new and vital way. More than a concept album, really more than an album, Amalthia is more a recording of a story of pain and betrayal. On April 17th, join Lörd Matzigkeitus and company as they publicly call this apparition forth for all to witness.
HX: It’s my understanding that a live show of The Projectionist is very theatrical. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t seen it?
LM: It’s the black metal Sex Pistols. Straight down your throat, spitting, frothing, fire, blood and viscera. Sex, debauch… LM is a madman I cannot contain. Hanging from the rafters, clawing through the crowds…. At one show, I skullfucked a severed pig’s head, then shoved my fingers into its mind and monologued with it as though it were Yorick’s skull.
HX: Wow! Very visceral and dramatic.
LM: It is anything but safe to be a passive spectator.
I WILL challenge every soul in the room and whip it into a frenzy.
HX: Will you perform Amalthia as a whole, with actors, costumes, and props, etc?
LM: Moribund wishes to put on a full production and camera crew for a DVD feature. It is planned. But also, I am shopping the story to horror film directors for a possible series or series of films.
HX: That would be very cool. Soundtrack to be at least partly provided by The Projectionist?
LM: Once my new book Spell Possessed is in hand, the plan is to shop around the script and have the band soundtrack whatever comes of it. I’ve acted in a film myself years ago. I should’ve said so when you asked earlier. I was in Day Zero and I ate a baby and three adults therein.
HX: Oh, very nice! I’ll have to seek that out to watch it. How did that experience compare to being on the stage with a band?
LM: More controlled. More patient. Less manic. About the same level of gore. And I had a semi circle of scantily clad student beauticians do my make up for the film. Lörd Matzigkeitus does his own make up. It’s less chesty in the dressing room….
HX: Back to Amalthia. Tell me about the writing and recording process of this album.
LM: As I alluded to earlier, Amalthia was written three years ago in Newfoundland. I was in isolation 6000 miles from my family and sequestered to a small home there. I’d gotten the title from an odd experience I had at the tail end of my being in my first band, a death metal band called Spawned by Rot. Over a picture of a mummified woman discovered in Egypt I’d decided looked like an “Amalthia”. I scribbled down the title in my lyric book and forgot about it. Once I’d finished the script, the band had completed NightHag, which I’d mixed in Newfoundland, and we began to work out tracks for it. This time, I sent the script to Parageist and told him I wanted him to write guitars to how they story made him feel. Act for act. Halfway through this process, his daughter was born very prematurely and he was rife with concern and angst. I believe he applied this to his work on the second half of the album and you can really hear the tumultuous aggression/frustration he was going through then. She’s fine now…by the way. Constantly knocking over and climbing everything in their home
HX: I’m glad she’s fine. That’s good to hear. You can definitely feel everything ratchet up in the second half of the album. Let talk about the cover. The image is both stunning and haunting. Is the character on the cover meant to be Amalthia?
LM: It is. Painted in his own blood by famous French painter Maxime Taccardi. Modeled after film noire actress Gloria Grahame.
HX: Wow! That’s dark. And incredible. Commissioned for this album?
LM: Indeed it was. I’m fortunate to have been thus associated with him for this
HX: How did that all come about? Did you know him already? What was he given in terms of story or music to help guide his process?
LM: I sent him a reference drawing of Miss Grahame. We’d been acquainted online and I sent him the libretto and music to listen to while he painted. This is the picture from which it was based:
HX: We’re going to be premiering Perfumes as part of this feature. What can you tell me about this absolute ripper of a track, without giving too much story away?
LM: Perfumes is an image to MacBeth. The line “…And all the perfumes of Arabia could not wash the blood from these hands” inspired the Act. In it, Amalthia surrounds herself in a cloud of perfume wanting to ward of the sulfurous smell of hell that clings to her skin, having freshly murdered someone. Evelyn is upstairs, hog-tied and sobbing, Amalthia leaves her vanity and goes upstairs to meet out the fate of Evelyn.
HX: What’s next for this project, in the immediate future? Tours once the Covid situation dies down?
LM: We have a tour planned in Sept with Antideluvian and GoatHammer. With an EP to be released by Moribund before then entitled “Under the Cruel Glow of Terror.” The follow-up to “The Stench of Amalthia” is 80% complete… The third black opera is called “Matriarch of the First Drained Veins.”
HX: You guys are nonstop!
LM: Satan finds work for idle hands
HX: The EP will be more traditional? Not an opera?
LM: The EP contains a two part story/tragedy about a Nobleman who falls in love with a wolf. The rest are isolated songs.
HX: How about a longer term vision for The Projectionist? You mentioned nine total operas. Does that mean The Projectionist has a long but finite shelf life?
LM: Perhaps. I insist on releasing all nine operas. After that, we shall see what this old monster is capable of conjuring…. It may just be Destroyer and I howling at the moon.
HX: That, in itself, would be a sight to behold, I think. Is there anything else we should know about this album and this project?
LM: It is…. another world. Not an endeavor to be traveled lightly. If you need your dark art spoon fed to you, you’d best move along.
HX: That’s a good way to put it, and a good way to wrap up the interview, I think. Thanks so much for your time.
LM: Hail Thyself. Thank you for your interest. Goodnight Warlocks and NightHags