Benelux Lodge @ Satzvey Gothic Castle Festival 29-08-2015
04/09/2015, Wim GUILLEMYN
photos: © Joost Vandoorne
The Benelux Lodge has about 300 members. The Facebook-page is administered by Frater Fidens (based in Amsterdam) and Tom Meert (based in West Flanders). Tom was added six months ago to the Lodge Management to take the Belgian section under his wings. This results in promo, promo... Frater monitors the Benelux region and provides daily updates on Facebook. Now that the Merciful Nuns are doing some summer festivals, Tom Meert came up with the idea to put both Merciful Nuns and the Benelux Lodge in the spotlights. An idea that certainly appealed to me. At Gothic Castle Festival, a group of members from the Benelux Lodge went to see Aeon Sable and Merciful Nuns perform.
Aeon Sable was added to the bill because their performance at Amphi this summer was cancelled (due the stormy weather). On November 14th Merciful Nuns are playing in Athens with Aeon Sable as their support act. Aeon Sable also appears on the Solar Lodge label and shares the spiritual depth of the Merciful Nuns. The Gothic Castle Festival is seen by the members of the Lodge as a Benelux meeting to support these two bands.
The ideal time to chat with Frater Fidens and Tom Meert.
Frater: The idea to go on the road together to see the Merciful Nuns live has gradually grown through the activities of the Merciful Nuns Benelux Lodge of which a pragmatic network is the foundation.
Tom: Previously, during the Garden of Delight period, such things were not as organized and everyone did something for themselves, but now, with the founding of the Lodges we form one strong community in which we know each other well. We have e.g. regular contact by telephone. Everyone from the Benelux Lodge, of course knows the band since the days of Garden of Delight, of which the Merciful Nuns are the only legitimate successor.
Frater: Social media and the global establishment of the various Lodges is an ongoing process and we adapt things as we are growing swiftly. Our Lodge members had each their personal period in which they got to know Garden of Delight. For Tom, together with other members like Stefan and Bert, this was at the time of the release of "Necromanteion" after seeing the very first Garden of Delight show in Belgium.
How would you describe the style of the Merciful Nuns?
Frater: Artaud Seth himself describes it as this: "I am indeed partial to the deepest bass lines and cold, sober drumming void of emotions. They should accentuate the songs in a simple but very precise and effective manner. I am determined to drag the Goth Rock of the present into a new direction. Away from the time worn and dust covered Goth cliché into a hopefully ground-breaking approach based on good contemporary production in conjunction with intelligent concepts and a brooding emotion long thought of as forgotten and to bring it all together in one harmonious concept which finds its expression in the typical Merciful Nuns sound.”
Tom (adds): Most of us experience the Merciful Nuns in a two-folded way. Firstly, the music with the profound lyrics and the accompanying artwork are certainly not of secondary importance. The crucial questions remains: "Where do we come from?", "What is our task here on this planet,?" "Is God perhaps humanlike and “created” by the ancient cultures to better understand humanity?”, …
Frater: The Maya and megalithic era, Egyptian mythology, the mysteries of Jerusalem, Aleister Crowley and his prophetic writing called "The Book of the Law",... enough material that one can explore further by reading, forming one’s personal opinion and so on. The band travels globally to delve into these ancient cultures and thus form the basis for a number of songs and albums of which Goetia IV and V are - from that perspective - in my opinion the most impressive. It is therefore no surprise that these 2 CD’s are the most varied in terms of instrumental sounds and atmospheres, a journey back into time…
What do you think of the criticism that they are a rip-off of The Sisters of Mercy?
Tom: The sound of the Merciful Nuns is sometimes dismissed as being a mere copy of the Sisters of Mercy, but now, after many releases and performances, most people agree that they indeed have managed to create an unique sound. Like 'Reflections of Darkness' recently very nicely wrote after the “M'era Luna” gig: "A band-which is both able to copy and create a new style. " Drum computer, Jawa’s deep bass, Jón’s echoes of guitar sounds and the typical voice of Artaud. His voice, his attitude, determine the unique concept of the Merciful Nuns on stage.
Lodges, what are those exactly?
Frater: The Lodges are set up in countries where a goth (ick) / rock scene is present and growing. A place where there is an exchange ot thoughts, where lyrics, interviews, meetings, gigs, festivals, (pre and after) parties are published… in a way it is like a virtual library of which The Grandlodge is the global epicentre.
The Benelux Lodge was one of the first lodges that emerged during the myspace area when the Nuns released Lib I. Back then Artaud opted for a Benelux Lodge because in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg - as in the UK –no longer have a really vivid goth/ rock scene and as this is not such a large area.
Tom: The Lodge was founded by Frater Fidens and he provides us online with up to date information on a daily basis. The advantage of the Lodges is of course that our members and followers are daily informed of what is going on in the world of the Nuns and a chance to build friendships with loyal followers. The word “fan” is not really a fitting word: "We are all part of something greater."
How would you describe them live?
Tom: Live they are an 'experience'. The artwork does justice to the songs on the small and large video screens on stage accompanied by smoke machines and lighting by Luxifer, Artaud who plays his audience and especially... the band exudes an impressive attitude. Dark music filled with a quantity of energies.
Can we classify the Merciful Nuns much longer under the term gothic rock?
Tom: It does not matter how they are classified as they are unique. Merciful Nuns are very active in terms of releases. The artwork is full of symbolism, the promo trailers for upcoming releases are sublime and the music transcends our expectations each time.
Talking in terms of music and releases we naturally arrive at the side project of Artaud Seth along with Ashley Dayour (Whispers in the Shadow, The Devil & The Universe) called Near Earth Orbit. There are three releases planned including the recent "End Of All Existence".
An industrial tinged sound with lyrics that can be read like a book and experienced a being in a movie. NEO is in part based on the question "Are we the only living creatures in this vast, vast cosmos?"
Frater: The 2nd album will be released in October 2015 and the 3rd release and live project are planned for spring 2016. The music, the lyrics, the movie - "Interstellar" – which undoubtedly inspired NEO makes this side project as unique and attractive as Merciful Nuns.
Tom: What the sequel will be and how it will sound live is what we desire to know and still a big question mark at this time.
Currently Merciful Nuns mostly perform in Germany. Are there any plans to play again in Belgium? And how are they experienced in Germany?
Tom: What we do as Benelux Lodge abroad is very simple. Now there are no shows booked in Belgium or the Netherlands. Respect to all the organizers (past, present and future), but we still hope that the Nuns will play for a 3rd time in Belgium and then particularly will be able to welcome a larger audience as all releases are positively appreciated in Belgium. This should be possible in our opinion. The experiences in Germany during the Nunhood Gatherings are something entirely different because Berlin is also the hometown of Artaud and Jawa Seth and many Nunhoodlers travel from far and abroad to experience the band live. Not only Merciful Nuns play during these Gatherings but also other bands that release their music on the Solar Lodge label.
In order to remain updated we extend our request to follow both the ‘Merciful Nuns Benelux Lodge’ and 'The Grandlodge' - our new online global headquarters - on Facebook and visit the Black Easter Festival in Berlin on 26 + 27/3/2016. For questions or more information please contact us via the Merciful Benelux Lodge page.
Frater Fidens: We started in 2010 with a limited number of Lodges and now we are dealing with a global network that poses necessary challenges.
During an interview I did in 2013 with Artaud he replied the following with respect to the Lodges:
“Indeed it has been playing on my mind for quite some time to alter the structure of the Lodges. I know WHAT I want to reform, but I am not yet sure HOW to go about it. The practical implementation of the restructuring still requires some tweaking and fine-tuning and will some time before we see the results. In principal I would like to strengthen some Lodges by working closer with them. Furthermore I want to see more emphasis and value placed on content and elitist principles. And lastly I want to improve mutual cooperation amongst the Lodges; there is still room for improvement in some instances.”
After a period of reflection, we recently launched this restructuring through one global headquarters on Facebook with The Grandlodge. I have also played a role in all this due to my extensive spiritual and musical managing background which results in a lot of practical experience in such matters. There were some internal discussions between Artaud and the Headlodges respresenting the Nunhoodlers in their various countries. The creative process however is a different matter that takes place wihin the band and at times some glimpses are shared with the Inner Circle that consists of the Headlodges. The light and video show of Luxifer is also part of that creative process because it is attuned totally to the content and moods of the songs. We have good mutual and amicable communications between the different Lodges but we remain focused when it comes to certain practical matters. Due to recent developments Tom Meert is now also officially involved in the Benelux Lodge due to his commitment to and with the Belgian Nunhood.
Aeon Sable was established in 2010 and since last year are also part of the Solar Lodge label. What they certainly have in common with the Nuns is spiritual depth. Singer Nino designs for each concert one unique shirt and also draws a card from the Thoth tarot deck of Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris that is later thrown into the crowd during their live performance. They are currently working on a new album for which I have helped Nino with the text for the next single ‘Garden of Light’ that probably will be released before spring 2016 as a prequel to their new album.
How would you describe the music of Aeon Sable?
"Do you have a dark side? You will after you listen to Aeon Sable." (DeathRat Fanzine)
They describe it themselves as a Dark Mail Goth Rock.
Short impression of the Gothic Castle gig.
There are not very many good bands in the afternoon after the well appreciated opening performance of Aeon Sable. A little before 21.00 hr it was then finally time for the Nuns. The show started with the Intro, darkness, the screens, fog and then the band got started…It was a very small stage but Luxifer succeeded in creating something unique. A large screen behind the band and in both corners video screens on which the accompanying artwork and video stills were shown. The band was well received by the audience and this was undoubtedly due to the perfect mix of the songs, the sound, the stage presence and the video and light show that were very impressive. The stroboscopic mirroring lights (provided by Aeon Sable) gave an extra dimension during certain songs. The Seth list was well received and the audience demanded an encore which resulted in two more songs.
Setlist (Playtime:. 20.50 to 22.00) is:
- Intro: the Warning
- speed of light
- karma inn
- body of light
- genesis revealed
- exosphere / blackbody / ultraviolet
- god aeon
- ancient astronauts
- the return
Some quotes that were collected after the gig:
"Impressive" "Perfect set(h) list" "What an atmosphere"
"Super" "It was worth waiting" "Glad I was there"
"Fantastic" "The sound was great”' "The Nuns are unique"
"Have you seen the light?" “Brilliant”
As you can tell from these reactions the gig was very successful. Meteora / Occvltation set(h) list lends itself perfectly for festivals. On to Berlin in 2016 with the Benelux Lodge.....
A special thanks to Joost Vandoorne, Official Benelux Lodge Photgrapher who gave us some nice pictures.
TOLCHOCK • It´s important to express what you think is wrong in this screwed up society.
DECODED FEEDBACK • Horror movies are great fun to write soundtracks for.
BETTINA KÖSTER (MALARIA!, MANIA D.) • Thurston Moore came in and saw us, and he said that if we could get away with something like that, he could start a band too.
SOPHIE SCHOUKENS (DIRECTOR) • I'm a mix of artistic and business, but I really like the more and more the creative part.
APRIL FOOLS • We grow up in the 80s surrounded by so many creative bands. What else could we play?
PRECIOUS CHILD • Precious Child gives a voice to anger, isolation, despair, rage, the desire to escape, the desire to change.
VLY • Music is not supposed to convey precise and unequivocal messages
SYSTEM OVERTHROW • We are team players.
XTR HUMAN • The growing coldness in society is shocking to a point where we all can’t go on with apathy and self made imaginations.
JANREVOLUTION • We don't make the world better, but we're happy to see you smile.