After releasing his debut on Bestial Burst, Reptile Womb has instantly gained recognition for his dark and obscure sounds and disturbing approach to occult and violent themes. In the interview I was able to conduct with him, he explains his vision, beliefs, past activities and much more
TM: Hello! First of all, thanks for doing the interview. For those who don't already know you. Who are you and what do you do?
Reptile Womb: Hail, DWELLER OF ENDLESSE GRAEVES, HE WHO IS WITHOWT NAYME AND DEVYLL’S SPEARE is the entity behind this interview, sole spirit of REPTILE WOMB.
TM: Reptile Womb rose from the ashes of Below. Why did you decide to end Below and start under the new moniker? Is Reptile Womb a direct continuation or do you see these as two separate projects?
RW: It was time for BELOW to shed its skin, and thus REPTILE WOMB was born. As with the serpent, this is the same entity, whom merely had to slough what it was before to continue to grow in power and lethality. In this particular instance, an expansion of the elements of the sound was what the project dictated, and the name was changed to reflect this, and, on a more mundane level, to avoid confusion with some wimpy Swede doom band signed to a bigger label that went by BELOW. I feel REPTILE WOMB is a name that carries much more of the visceral, skin-crawling atmosphere of what the project has become.
TM: Your debut “Thee Fyrste Deathe: Serpent Wrything Beneathe Thee Græve” has just been released by Bestial Burst. How was this contact established and what are your thoughts on the label and the affiliated projects? It is probably safe to say that Reptile Womb fits the label aesthetic incredibly well.
RW: Well, contact was initially established by being a customer of the BESTIAL BURST distro for a long period. When I made the first demo with BELOW, I sent a copy to Sami as I was and am a huge fan of RIDE FOR REVENGE and WILL OVER MATTER, and, much to my surprise, he was into it. From then on began our collaboration. BESTIAL BURST and the affiliated projects represent to me what the extreme music scene should be-darkness and obscurity unbound by adherence to a genre for the sake of catering to the sheep who like to bleat on about extremity for the attention of others rather than a genuine connection to the extreme. I would entirely agree that REPTILE WOMB fits the label aesthetic, which is why it is and shall remain its home.
TM: “Thee Fyrste Deathe: Serpent Wrything Beneathe Thee Græve” seems like a very thought out and stringent album thematically. What were your thoughts behind it?
RW: It’s really hard to put into words what it was about specifically other than that it’s an entirely personal endeavour. All of my obsessions are the fuel for this project and each of its releases, and this album is no different. Ritual bloodshed for the glory of Satan, sadism for the glory of the self. Contemplation of death, face-to-face.
TM: Lots of aspects of Reptile Womb may seem disturbing even to many Black Metal listeners. The promotional photo of yourself, the charred infant on the cover and some of the sadomasochistic imagery instantly come to mind. Is this a core element of Reptile Womb?
RW: Absolutely. Black metal and noise should always embrace confrontational aspects, as they are meant to be the extreme of the musical/ideological spectrum. I also feel that strong imagery is essential to both forms of music. Not to mention this sort of imagery will be sure to deter those who are too weak to handle what black metal or noise SHOULD be. But these aren’t images chosen for the sake of merely confrontation. The charred infant on the cover is actually a victim of Harlequin ichthyosis, sometimes referred to as a “snake baby”. So aside from the shocking aspect of it, it represents the rebirth of BELOW as REPTILE WOMB. To further dissect the cover, the viper skulls arranged in a swastika pattern represent the extermination of vermin thought the most painful method possible-slow poisoning. We strike from the shadows and wait as they fall victim to our toxin. The sauvastika-headed serpent on the corner is to represent the sauvastika as a symbol of destruction, undoing those who oppose it as venom breaks down tissue. As for the promo photo, blood sacrifice is necessary to incite a ritualistic mood. I will also usually engage in a degree of self-mutilation while recording vocals to enter a blood frenzy and give that much more to the performance.
TM: You chose to describe your style as “black blood death trance” and the prescription certainly fits the overall atmosphere very well. How did you come up with this term? Do you intentionally avoid established art styles to describe your sounds?
RW: BLACK BLOOD DEATH TRANCE just came to me while contemplating the project. As you’d mentioned, I think it gives a very good description of the sound. It wasn’t really chosen in order to be “different”, and, if forced, I’d definitely consider REPTILE WOMB a black metal band. Some would say the term carries some baggage along with it, but as I see it, the true black metal spirit still burns among various cults. The main problem lies in the waves upon waves of trendy, weak, and outright shitty bands that defame the genre. But I feel that instead of abandoning the term, we ought to make black metal back into what it was originally intended to be-an elite,hateful, violent music/ideological fusion meant for a select few, not rock ‘n roll dogshit or a product to be consumed or worn as a “gold star” to show everyone how obscure and eclectic you are.
TM: Despite the individualism Reptile Womb represents, your style owes a lot to Noise and Black Metal. How would you describe the influences? Maybe Black Metal aesthetic with noisier sound?
RW: You could, yes. As mentioned prior, the strong imagery of black metal is part of what appealed to me upon my initial exposure over a decade ago. So I feel it’s important to embrace that which some people would call “childish” or “outdated”-corpsepaint, spikes, bones, blood; all are as important as the music in my mind, another essential part of the whole. I’d mentioned it in another interview, but if you’re going to sing about death and evil, why not present an image as such? Regarding any sort of classification, I’d call REPTILE WOMB black metal with noise influence. A big part of the way I envisioned the sound initially was those old BM tapes which were recorded in a very raw manner which lent an unintentional layer of noise (smoke obscuring the ritual, if you will).
TM: Speaking of sound, what kind of sonic ingredients are utilised in the process of creation? Bass seems to play a large role.
RW: Personally, I prefer to not get into more “mundane” aspects such as these, as I feel they take away from the mystery, but in the barest terms, REPTILE WOMB is bass, keys, and programmed drums.
TM: I sense an omnipresent aura of death and authentic occult interests in your work. Would you agree? In what way are these two concepts affiliated with each other? Your lyrics are quite remarkable when it comes to this. Would you say that they are needed to understand the idea behind Reptile Womb?
RW: Death is necessary to get a true sense of the occult, whether via blood sacrifice or mere contemplation and embrace. One of my most prized possessions is a human skull. I could stand there and admire it all day. It truly possesses a power beyond this world. So if there’s a better example of “occult power”, I’m hard-pressed to find it. Being surrounded by hundreds of years of bones in an ossuary in Milan recently was a very powerful experience as well. From a young age, I’ve been attracted to dark/”evil” things, so I’d say that these lyrics are really the expression of a lifelong obsession. But in order to truly understand black metal at all, I’d think you need to have a certain spiritual connection with the omnipresent, Left-Hand idea/ls therein, which is why I don’t understand your modern-day gaytheist or abrahimic worm listening to or claiming to embrace this music. Black metal IS Satan, whatever that means to you. But again on the topic of death, it’s also deeply connected to PE/noise. This fetishization of death and endeavour to explore it through “non-musical” means and explicit imagery was my initial draw to the genre.
TM: Below only released a demo and a split with Ride for Revenge in 2012 and 2013. Why the small number of releases? Do you like to take your time when creating?
RW: Yes, I only create when the time strikes. Many of the tracks are played over and over before being recorded, so they’re truly “perfected” before being put out.
TM: You also took part in a collaborative project called Ritual Violence. How did this happen?
RW: RITUAL VIOLENCE was initially a suggestion of Sami when I told him I was coming over for a special RFR/BIZARRE UPROAR show in ’13. Unfortunately, life got in the way and the trip had to be postponed until the following year. So, with ¾ of the initial suggested lineup, we went into the F&V rehearsal bunker/kontti (which is one of the coolest places I’d been, especially to record), rehearsed each track once to get a feel for it, and then recorded. I’m pretty satisfied with how it came out, it definitely sounds of each of our individual projects. I have to sincerely thank Sami and Pasi for even agreeing to this fantastic occasion and being very cool and helpful during the entirety of the recording process. The feeling of being able to collaborate with two of your biggest influences in person is like nothing else.
TM: It seems as if Reptile Womb seeks to portray thoughts and concepts and doesn't focus so much on the musical side of things. Is this the case? Could it even be a deliberate choice to set yourself apart from the more sophisticated and melodic modern Black Metal?
RW: In a sense, yes. I think that BM has always been more about a strong ideological background than a proficient musical one. You could be able to play anything you like as well as you want, but if the heart and devotion to the concept aren’t there, your music will end up a flat, lifeless product rather than a genuine expression of yourself. Then again, you can have flat, lifeless music with a dedicated spiritual background, so it’s imperative to strike a balance between the two. I’d say something like 60% spirit, 40% musical talent.
TM: How has the response been, so far? Does Reptile Womb fit in more in the Black Metal or the Noise community? Or maybe even nowhere?
RW: I’m not particularly concerned where it fits, REPTILE WOMB has support from both sides. Maybe more response from the metal community due to having a larger amount of established contacts there?
TM: My impression is that you are very enthusiastic about music and art in general. Are there any influences that you would like to point out.
RW: Well, if we’re being very concise, the major influences on this project are BEHERIT, RIDE FOR REVENGE, and BIZARRE UPROAR. Other than that, ranging from sonically to ideologically, IMPALED NAZARENE’S “TOL CORMPT NORZ NORZ NORZ”, SPEAR OF LONGINUS, early ABSURD, FUNERAL MIST, NASTROND, WOODS OF INFINITY, MORTUARY DRAPE, SARCOFAGO, ARCHGOAT, SUTCLIFFE JUGEND, DEATHKEY/INTOLITARIAN, NYOGTHAEBLISZ, FLOODED CHURCH OF ASMODEUS, SADISTIC BLISS, PRURIENT, THE TEMPLE OF FULLMOON, H.R. GIGER, ALIEN, PREDATOR, 70’S-80’S HORROR, WILL OVER MATTER, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, CONCILIUM BANDS, H.P. LOVECRAFT, NECROMANTIA, SICK SEED, 80’S UK POWER ELECTRONICS, GENOCIDE ORGAN, BLACK MASS OF ABSU, RAPE, MURDER, CANNIBALISM, OCCULTISM, SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE, BLOOD SACRIFICE, XE, SADOMATOR, GONKULATOR, GOATFAGO, IMPETIGO, AUTOPSY, THERGOTHON, BARATHRUM, NECROPHILIA, MORTICIAN… As far as new projects that keep the old flame burning, I’d like to mention WITCHCRAFT, REEK OF THE UNZEN GAS FUMES, FATHERLAND, BLACK GRAIL, GOATMOON, CEREMONIAL TORTURE, NECROSTRIGIS, TREPANERINGSRITUALEN, and of course SCATMOTHER.
TM: Are there any future plans for Reptile Womb?
RW: Well, there’s a live ritual coming up at Obscurex fest in August of this year. I’ll be sharing the stage with the mighty BIZARRE UPROAR, so that’s a pretty exciting event. Other than that, REPTILE WOMB will continue releasing and recording.
TM: Thanks for your time! Any last words?
RW: Thanks for the interview and BLEED FOR THE DEVIL.