Florida black metal band Lustravi may be a newcomer to the genre, but even this early on they’re well worth your attention. The group is set to release their debut full length ‘Cult Of The Blackened Veil’ on May 6th via Obscure Musick, and today we’re pleased to premiere the song The Nineteenth Key. Channeling elements of various European black metal bands together into a potent mixture, Lustravi is able to deliver material that has that raw, abrasive quality that fans of the genre look for without sacrificing any clarity in the process.
This song is a perfect example of what they’re capable of, as it offers plenty of twists and turns that draw you further into the band’s ceremonial/ritualistic elements. After a faster intro, the instrumentals settle into mid-tempo riffing that let some lumbering, bottom heavy tonality drive things forward with a chilling melodic lead spreading over top of it. The Nineteenth Key continues on in this manner for much of its six-minute run time, but it never feels like the band has stretched out their slower rituals too far, and some well-placed blasts and a wailing guitar solo help to grab your attention. While the instrumentals weave this darker atmosphere and rawer sound, bassist/vocalist Morgan alternates between higher pitched screams and low growls. Her voice is extremely abrasive and cuts through the sound, commanding you to pay attention to each and every word.
Like plenty of other American bands that took a good deal of influence from various European black metal acts, Lustravi has that air of familiarity. But they manage to merge all of these elements together into a cohesive narrative and spine chilling instrumentation that make them feel like more than a retread of any one particular band. In addition to the song premiere, we had the chance to ask Morgan some questions about the band and their debut to learn more about what drives them forward.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Lustravi is a relatively new black metal band, as you released a demo and split prior to this year’s ‘Cult Of The Blackened Veil’ full length. For those that are just hearing your material for the first time, give us a brief introduction. How long have you been together for?
Lustravi (Morgan Weller): We’ve been together about a year. Lustravi is from Youngstown, Florida which is a really, really small town just north of Panama City. We’re a 4 piece band with myself on bass and vocals, Geoffrey McWhorter and Zachary Cook on guitars, and Cory Keister on drums and we play ceremonial black metal.
TO: Four of the songs on the full length originally appeared on your demo ‘The Ritual’. Did you make any changes to these tracks since the original release, and if so what did you decide to do differently?
Lustravi: The original recordings that were ‘The Ritual’ are extremely raw live recordings. They definitely have a more traditional black metal sound. We ended up rerecording those original 5 songs from that and made the production way better than the originals in my opinion. Honestly looking back at what we originally were and how much we’ve grown as a band is definitely humbling. I think it’s important to stick to your roots.
TO: Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez mastered the album, and helped to give your material a sound where the details are easy to make out without sacrificing any of the rawness. What type of input did he have? Additionally, where did you record the material?
Lustravi: Punchy is definitely one of the best in the business and it truly was an honour to have him work with our material. Since we do black metal, I find the rawness to be of utmost importance because so much is lost in a super polished and clean recording. So we gave him the tracks of a few of the albums we wanted it to sound like. I believe what we all decided on was Behemoth’s ‘Evangelion’ which has a very warm analog tone to it and I feel like Punchy nailed exactly what we were going for. We recorded everything at The Little Room In Florida which is owned and operated by our friend Javan Irving who has a pretty awesome home studio. He did a great job capturing what we are and was also incredibly easy to work with.
TO: I saw you mention in an earlier interview this was the first band where you’ve handled all of the vocal work yourself. How has your style changed from the bands you were in earlier?
Lustravi: I didn’t really do much of any vocals in my previous bands. Maybe a few lines for backup vocals live but that’s about it. I’ve always been a bassist first and most of my work in previous bands has been solely playing bass. Most of the stuff I did before was death metal but I’ve always been huge into black metal. Starting this band pushed me to do and be as much as I could and definitely gave me different motivation to push myself vocally and take it seriously enough to be a good frontman.
TO: There are so many branches of Satanism and elements of the occult one can explore. What particular ones have you felt a connection with and how do you tie them in to your music?
Lustravi: I have a bit of an obsession exploring the left hand path. I take a lot from Luciferian, Satanist, Temple of the Black Light, and traditional occultist doctrines. This is a war. The opposition has their worship music, whatever the fuck “white metal” is, so we have ours. As far as what I write lyrically, I just take from what inspires me and let it flow through me onto paper. We’re surrounded by Christians down here so it’s not hard to have that hate fueled by people we consider to be unintelligent slaves.
TO: You refer to your material as “ceremonial black metal”, which comes through in both your writing and lyrical content. Does the ceremonial aspect also carry to your live performance, and what should one expect if they’re able to catch you on-stage?
Lustravi: It most definitely carries over the live performance. We have thuribles of incense, I’m usually baptized in blood from a chalice, we’ve had BDSM shows, animal skulls and body parts, and just kind of anything we can think to make the show more interesting and make people join in to the transcendent unholy feeling that we are indulging in. I made our ritual attire myself and of course we always have corpse paint. I have carefully written and memorized speeches that I pull people in with. I think it helps people understand more what the music represents when we keep in mind the visual we represent.
TO: The cover art is very striking, and gives off an occult and ritual feel. Who created it and how does this tie in to some of the themes that are being explored on the album?
Lustravi: Bruna Vilela from Portugal painted the cover. She really nailed what we represent and did it in a very classy way. We had given her some of our original art which was a lot more cartoony but still had the themes that we wanted. I feel like it represents us as a whole and I’m honoured to have been able to use her piece for this. The sexual freedom, the black veils, the line of more hooded figures walking down the stairs toward the focal point of the painting and the ritual ongoing really tells a story of what’s actually going on throughout the album.
TO: ‘Cult Of The Blackened Veil’ is being released by Obscure Musick, a fairly new record label that’s built up a sizeable roster of different metal bands. How did this deal come together, was it influenced by the label’s release of the ‘Musick for Sick Minds Vol. 2’ split?
Lustravi: We had actually signed to Obscure Musick prior to ‘Musick for Sick Minds Vol. 2’ and it has definitely been a huge step for us. This is my first time on a label and it really has been a great experience. They have brought us up from the small band we were with raw live recordings to what we are now and without their guidance and help, I don’t know if it would’ve been possible to accomplish what we have on our own. I met Corey Athos on Facebook and we just started talking about metal and it kind of snowballed from there. He saw the fire that I had for the music we create and really took a chance on us and it’s turned out really good.
TO: Your band is based out of the Bible Belt. Has this brought any challenges with it with regards to your live shows or any other aspects? With the sheer amount of religion thrust at people in the region, does this give the metal bands from the surrounding areas any sense of comradery as they stand in opposition to it?
Lustravi: It took me about a year to find band mates because not only because of the satanic themes of the music but also because no one wanted to play with a chick in a band. We’ve had protesters. We’ve had venues not allow us to play because of what we are. But to me, if you’re not actively fighting against the opposition, you will be overtaken by it.
And we definitely have great relationships with other black metal bands in the surrounding areas. Alabama, even though you would think that would be the absolute last place for a black metal movement to be happening, is incredible to us. We’ve had the honour of working alongside some amazing bands and amazing people who are without a doubt hungry to have blatant music that hates southern Christian principles. Just to name a few of the bands there, Curse the Flesh and Gathering ov Vultures are both incredible and are definitely in the thick of the Bible Belt as well.
TO: To my ears there is a lot of European black metal influence to your sound, and it’s done extremely well. American bands tend to be fairly hit or miss when it comes to doing the various European styles of black metal justice, what do you think a lot of them get wrong?
Lustravi: I think what happens is they focus so much on having a certain sound, instead of letting the music flow through them. Not only that but writing lyrics about being in the snowy forests when you live in the armpits of the US is kind of silly. A lot of those kinds of bands that miss the mark tend to be trend followers and it tends to be unconvincing.
TO: When people think of metal bands from Florida, death metal is probably what comes to mind first or Black Witchery’s black/death metal. What are some other black metal bands from Florida people should be giving their attention to?
Lustravi: There are so many talented bands here. I would definitely say check out Vitreous, Promethean Horde, Grave Gnosis, Gedwolgod, Scytherium, Secrets She Kept, and L.O.R.E. all bands I’m a huge fan of and all of those are based here in Florida.
TO: With the album set to release next week, what else do you have planned for 2016? Any chance of a tour along the East Coast or elsewhere in the U.S.?
Lustravi: We’re planning on getting on the road around December/January. We’re still talking about whether we want to go west or north but I’ll be sure to keep all of that updated through our social media.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Cult Of The Blackened Veil’ or Lustravi?
Lustravi: Thank you to everyone who supports us in any way. Thank you to Obscure Musick and I can’t wait until people start getting their hands on ‘Cult of the Blackened Veil’ and hearing their responses to it!