About Me

Interview with Ultha

German Black Metal may sound a little strange but Ultha, with their new album "The Inextricable Wandering", are ready to prove us wrong. Metal Imperium talked to the band's bassist and vocalist, Chris Noir, to get to know this band a bit better.

M.I. - Why did you feel the need to create Ultha? Why have you opted for Ultha? What does it stand for?

We started the band in early 2014 after the demise of our old bands (Planks,Goldust, Atka, Ira, just to name a few). We always tried to incorporate elements of Black Metal in the song-writing of our old bands (especially Ralph and I), but never went all-in. So, when we got the chance to form a Black Metal band, we took it. 

M.I. - Ultha was formed 4 years ago but has many releases... can one assume its members are super creative?

I think restless is almost as important as creative. Especially Ralph, who writes the music and lyrics, can have an incredible high output at times. Besides that, we try to rehearse once a week, which isn’t that easy when everybody in the band is in his late 30ies and has a regular job to do, but of course it helps channeling Ralph's drafts into finished songs. So, I guess you could say creativity, restlessness and a fair amount of work ethic helps.

M.I. - It’s not common to see German bands playing Black Metal. Why is this genre so special to you? How did you decide it was the best fit for your music?

Besides Post-Punk, Black Metal is the kind of music that always touched me the most, which resonated best in me. I don’t know why, it’s hard to put feelings into words… Maybe it’s the combination of melancholy, melody and aggressiveness that got me. Right now I’m listening to Ulver’s “Nattens Madrigal“, which arguably is the essence of what I like best about Black Metal.

M.I. - The album title and the tracks have very elaborate titles… why? Who writes them and the lyrics?

Ralph writes all the lyrics. It’s very important for us that an album is a complete piece of art: music, artwork, lyrics, title, everything is equally important and therefore much thought is put into everything. Also, I like the fact every listener can come up with his very own interpretation of the title and lyrics, that might be very far from what’s the actual concept of the record.

M.I. - The band writes about melancholy, doubt, sorrow and anti-religion… why these issues in particular? Why are you interested in them?

It’s not so much an interest in these things, but the fact we have to live with these feelings. As far as melancholy, doubt, fear, loss goes, these are all emotions and experiences we encountered and regularly feel. Ralph writes about what moves him, which can be brutally honest at times, but I appreciate the fact that we don’t have to hide behind some kind of childish pseudo-satanic lyrics or that I have to sing about topics I actually have nothing to do with. It's fine for us if people want to do such things, create an image or actually have satanic views, but for us that just isn't a thing. Maybe it's partly due to our socialization in the DIY punk/hardcore scene, where it's rather nihilistic than anything else.

M.I. - What sets the new album “The Inextricable Wandering” apart from your two previous albums?

We tried to step into new territory with tracks like “There is no Love, high up in the Gallows“, which is very far away from Black Metal, still grasping the feeling of what is the core to this music. And I think the album feels more hectic sometimes, more desperate and melancholic. I’d say sound-wise it’s by far our best release, with a very natural, gritty yet powerful sound. Nevertheless we tried to keep our “trademarks“, which you could describe as the coldness of Scandinavian Black Metal mixed with the melodies of Dark Wave.

M.I. - Your first album “Pain Cleanses every doubt” had 4 tracks, the second one “Converging sins” had 5 and the 3rd one has 6. There seems to be a pattern here… coincidence or on purpose?

Pure coincidence.

M.I. - “The Inextricable Wandering” only features 6 tracks but has a running time over 1 hour… how is the length of the tracks decided? How complicated is it playing long tracks on a live environment?

Basically, it’s not decided at all, the tracks are as long as they need to be to feel right for us. Our drummer has probably the hardest job playing these songs live, just for stamina reasons, but I wouldn’t say it’s complicated. And like I said, we try to rehearse once a week, and after all our songs basically work like pop songs… heavy, long pop songs, but there’s not a single moment in any song where I would feel lost, there’s always a red line to cling to.

M.I. - Of all the 6 tracks, which one do you think will work better live? Why?

I think “I’m afraid to follow you there“ will become a standard song in our repertoire. It has a very atmospheric intro, amazing melodies, it’s fast, has a huge finale, pretty much everything people would classify as a good Ultha track.

M.I. - Ultha will be very busy playing in the near future in order to promote the new album to be released via Century Media. What are your expectations? Are you nervous or excited?

We’re definitely excited to play live again. After months of struggle to get the record ready and a lot of theoretical talk, it feels really good to focus on what’s the initial reason for doing a band: playing music.

M.I. - The album will be released in about a month… what are the reactions of the media and fans thus far?

So far, the reactions have been really good, actually I’m a bit surprised HOW good – I wouldn’t have expected this. 

M.I. - There will be a limited vinyl silver version of the album available through Vendetta Records. It’s awesome you have an awesome relationship with your previous label. Why are you so kind to them?

There’s no reason not to be. Without Stefan and Vendetta we wouldn’t be where we are now, we owe him and his work a lot. We didn't leave the label because of problems, as there were literally none.

M.I. - How did the deal with Century Media come up?

Basically, they approached us in early 2017, showing interest in signing us. We talked about the offer a lot and of course we were a bit skeptical at first, being the DIY Punks that we are. But the people of CM are really nice, seem like honest people, real fans of our music and complied to a lot of requests from our side. So, at the end of the day, we felt like we should give this whole thing a try.

M.I. - As a musician, what are your main goals?

I don’t feel like I’m a musician. I just hope to have this band as a way to express myself for a while longer. And if I can influence some of our listeners through this, that’s more than I could ever ask for.

M.I. - What expectations do you have for Ultha? How far do you want it to go?

I think we’re very realistic. We all work full-time in normal jobs, so extensive touring, a necessity to become a big band, just isn't possible. We’re just looking forward to play good shows and write some more music we would enjoy ourselves.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca