Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven (John Milton)
There are a million explanations for what Hell is, ranging from those of Dante to Shakespeare to Nietzsche to Aldous Huxley and naturally the established religions. Of course, the idea of Hell, real or imagined, also crops up often in Metal, but few artists have defined it so precisely and originally as Zwetwezen. The brainchild of Dyonice Zacharioudakis, this extraordinary and highly productive one-man band hailing from Beringen in Belgium has from its early days aimed to create the very sound of Hell.
First started in 1999 under the name Black Creature and renamed Zwetwezen in 2001, this pioneering one man band has created among the bleakest, most malign Black Metal ever recorded. Fusing Ambient, Industrial, Black Metal and a host of other influences, Zacharioudakis has released an incredible number of dark, deeply sinister recordings that are as uncomfortable and disturbing as they are revolutionary. With recent albums Mighty Swords of Evil (2019) and this year’s Wrath of Satan Zwetwezen continue to innovate, pushing back the frontiers of what we know as Black Metal and offering a world view that serves to challenge our very beliefs. In doing so they provide a stark warning on what lies ahead for the ailing human species.
I recently caught up with Dyo shortly after the release of his latest evil opus and asked him about what drives him.
Hailz Dyo, many thanks for agreeing to do this interview for Seelenfeuer magazine.
You have a very impressive back catalog of recordings going back twenty years. What originally inspired you to start Zwetwezen, and what are the ideas behind the band?
You’re very welcome, Robert. I was always fascinated by music ever since I was a kid. Metal was introduced to me by my father. I always wanted to start my own band and in 1998, when I was 15 years old, I finally recorded my first song, which of course meant the beginning of Zwetwezen. The idea behind the band was to reach the sound of Hell.
Your sound is totally unique, what are your main influences and how do these shape your compositions?
Well, maybe it is because I have so many influences (not only Black Metal), that the sound of my music is quite different. I’m inspired by many music genres. From Metal to Rock to Classical music, Punk and New Wave, etc. I also had music playing in my mind all the time since I was little. Sometimes it wakes me up at night and I have to write it down. My mind is quite a chaos hehehe. Some might see it as a gift, yet I see it as a curse. Because it is very exhausting. So, the compositions are simply shaped inside my head.
Aside from musical influences, what other references do you draw from, such as film, books etc?
Satanism, the occult, magick, mythology, paganism, etc. I’ve always been fascinated by these. In books as well as practicing. When it comes to movies, I let myself be inspired by horror movies. Also, death is a major influence. I was first introduced to it when I was 4 years old, seeing my grandfather die of cancer. He was also the first dead body I saw. Then of course my own life is an inspiration too. I’ve been through a lot in this life. I use both my misery and my strength to shape my music.
Let’s get deeper into the music of Zwetwezen and the ideas behind it. What inspired you to recreate the sound of Hell? Is this Hell real, imagined or is it a reference to the orthodox religious idea of Hell?
It’s the Hell I experience during my astral magick rituals. There’s a certain sound there and also the things I see and feel during these experiences is something I try to capture in my music.
How do you go about writing and recording the songs? Do you create a specific atmosphere for this?
I actually have no specific ways in my music. I just let it flow. About the writing, I don’t know how to write music, so I write down the riffs and make notes about how it should sound. I record it all on my computer and afterwards start mixing and then see if something should be added to the sound.
Your recordings seem to be expressly anti-Christian. How do your view Right Hand Path religions? Do they represent a form of ‚evil‘ to you?
Yes, the way I see it the god of those religions is a malevolent one. It’s all there, whether you read the Tora, the Bible or the Quran, they all show a god that is a mass murderer, rapist, paedophile, etc. I mean its followers are well known for their evil ways. They have destroyed and killed more in this world than any other beliefs. And funnier still is the irony when they say Satanists are the evil ones. To me it proves that they are naive idiots, yet very dangerous idiots that will do everything for their beliefs.
Yes, I fully agree with that. To what extent are your lyrics influenced by this idea? How do you go about writing them, by creating a specific mood?
My lyrics are highly influenced by this. I simply write them down as they come, many times after some bad experiences I had with humans. But also, other experiences such as after rituals. Most of the times the mood surrounding the lyrics is hate and anger.
Which other Black Metal artists do you feel successfully deliver a similar message? Do you think people are listening to this message?
Well, there are many Black Metal bands that have this similar message. To name a few: early Bathory, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Beherit, etc. Now, I think not many people actually listen to the message. For most people it is about the music. But probably there are a few that listen to the message in the music.
How do you view the Black Metal environment at the moment, which bands stand out for you?
There are some great new bands out there, but many bands today are kind of copy/paste bands. I mean, they sound like other bands. For example, how many bands sound like Marduk? I truly lost count to be honest. Bands that stand out for me are Murg, Drowning the Light, Perverted Ceremony, Ars Veneficium and some more.
Clearly human society is in crisis right now? Do you have a particular view on how this will play out in future?
The way things are going right now doesn’t look good for the future of humanity. I feel like they are destroying themselves because of their greed, selfishness and dumbness. They consider themselves invincible, act all smart, while they are the exact opposite of that. It’s like a global suicide.
What comes next for Zwetwezen? You have achieved so much with so many great releases, where do you go from Mighty Swords of Evil and The Wrath of Satan, are they part of similar works to come?
Yes, if all goes well, a new album will be released this year. It will be called All Turns to Dust. It is similar in style with Mighty Swords of Evil. I have been working on this album since 2019. Like the two other albums this one also will be released by Blasphemous Creations of Hell Records.
Like all musical genres Black Metal must generate artists who are bold and courageous enough to take risks and break down boundaries, without compromise. Too often musicians simply emulate the sound of their idols, and as a result simply become dull clones engaged in nothing more than hero worship.
This is not how Black Metal was conceived, and we can consider ourselves fortunate that artists such as Zwetwezen refuse to copy anyone in some vacuous attempt to become ’stars.‘ To be truly worthwhile musical artists who really are gifted must destroy the mould of convention, and venture into new uncharted waters. Hell is a large space in which to venture and explore. Zwetwezen continue to draw the map, for those courageous enough to travel to Hell with them.
Mighty Swords of Evil and Wrath of Satan are available from Blasphemous Creations of Hell Records https://bchrecords.storenvy.com/