We recently found out about TUMULTUOUS RUIN and, although there are so many solo projects making black metal right now, this one struck us out for a few reasons you are about to discover…
Subterráneo Webzine: Hello, and welcome to Subterráneo. Are you one of those people that can concentrate on writing while listening to music? If so, what’s playing while you answer these questions?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: Hey, thanks for having me! Right now, I’m listening to the recently released compilation from the label Realm & Ritual. It’s a double album that is half dungeon synth and half black metal. It’s really good! And yeah, I usually tune out whatever I’m listening to if I’m doing something else. So, then I have to go back and listen again later.
Subterráneo Webzine: TUMULTUOUS RUIN is a relatively new project that was initiated during the historical 2020. Was it a reaction to the situation COVID created or were you already making music/working on it, and the date was only coincidental?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I had done music stuff in the past when I was younger – a metal band in high school then, a lot of home recording, like, experimental industrial stuff that was usually solo, but sometimes collaborating with a friend or two. I was on a lot of drugs back then, so not much became of it. After I got clean, I stopped making music for a few years as I was getting my life together and focusing on other things. Lockdown during COVID provided the perfect opportunity to get back into recording. Also, with all the political upheaval in the last several years; the rise of fascism, etc. I felt like I needed an outlet for the intense feelings I was experiencing. Making music provides a healthy, productive way to express those feelings.
Subterráneo Webzine: Musically, you are labelled as Antifascist black metal or RABM. It certainly is black metal, but you don’t just stick to one type of BM, and there are some outside the genre influences like ODSM or even punk. What is your musical picture for TUMULTUOUS RUIN? Are you open to letting any type of inspiration, whether it comes from black metal or other genres, reflect in your music?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: Yeah, totally. I find inspiration from a lot of different styles of music. Movie scores often have parts that would make sick black metal songs. The song “Destitute” from Demo I is partly ripped off from the movie The Last Winter, which is also sampled at the beginning. But yeah, I also listen to death metal, doom, and other random stuff. I can find inspiration in all kinds of music.
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I guess I partially answered this in the 2nd question. Right now, I’m only involved in TUMULTUOUS RUIN.
Metal is what got me heavily into music at first when I was young. After that, I got into punk/goth/industrial, etc. I was lucky to grow up with a group of friends and acquaintances that were always introducing me to good music. I’ve always been more attracted to political bands like CRASS, NAUSEA (NYC), and SKINNY PUPPY. Besides that, other favorites over the years have been PINK FLOYD, early BUTTHOLE SURFERS, and NEUROSIS.
Subterráneo Webzine: So far, we can listen to the single “Trigger resistance”, Demo I with another three songs, four in Demo II, and a split album with EYN which includes one track of each band. These demo/single/EP formats are having some sort of revival and are fitting very well with the digital era. Is an LP something you would like to release at some point, or would you rather keep working with these shorter formats? Are they, maybe, an easier way to reach people since they don’t require as much time as a long play?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: It’s definitely easier to put together one or two songs for a split than to think about a full length. I planned on doing a full-length after Demo II but I wasn’t feeling it at the time and had the opportunity to do the split with EYN. I’m happy with how that turned out and EYN was great to work with. There will be an LP at some point probably in 2022.
Subterráneo Webzine: Solo projects are usually very prolific, so you are probably already working on something new. What’s coming next?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I do have another split about to come out! A four-way split along with PUNGENT SHROUD, END’S EMBRACE, and DARKGEM. It’s a good mix of different styles of black metal bands. TR has two songs on that. There’s also a couple of benefit compilations that I’m stoked to be a part of, coming soon that will include previously released TR songs. Then I can focus on putting together a full length. Inspiration comes in waves, so when it does, I’ll see if I can put together enough material for an album.
Subterráneo Webzine: Of course, music doesn’t come alone. It always brings other types of art with it, like the covers. Are you doing your music and your designs as well? What about videos? I can’t recall seeing any TUMULTUOUS RUIN videos. Is that something you might also get your hands on at some point?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: The circle-A guillotine design on Demo II cover was done by the artist Craniis from Barcelona. I had admired his designs on Instagram, and we had chatted a bit. When it came time to find art for the cover, I asked him and he suggested the design. It worked out perfectly. It’s such a cool design and people seem to love it. All credit to Craniis on that! Other than that, the photo used on the EYN split is a photo that they took, and I edited it a bit. The cover on the upcoming 4-way split is a photo that Darkgem took.
I have to give a shoutout to Unexpected Specter for the great design they did for a recently released TR long sleeve. I’m really happy with how it turned out. Also, my friend Sarah (sarahxshadows on IG) did my logo. She’s an amazing artist.
Subterráneo Webzine: Promotion, media contact, physical releases…. Are you doing all of this by yourself too? Are getting any PR or label help/feedback in the present?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: So far, I’ve been mostly doing everything myself- making tapes/CDs, promo, sales, shipping, etc. Born Too Late Tapes has helped out with tapes for EU/UK. They will also be handling the four-way split and Folkvangr Records is handling the US tapes for that. I actually enjoy doing that stuff, though it can be a lot of work sometimes. Respect to the folks that run small independent labels.
I also have to give a huge amount of credit to Antifascist Black Metal Network too for having TR on the channel and for promoting RABM as a whole.
Subterráneo Webzine: The raw sound, and even the RABM tag, have always come with a lot of prejudice regarding the quality of the projects involved. The first one is probably related to how overcrowded the subgenre is, with all kinds of qualities and productions. The second has more to do with being a niche and politicized (towards the left!!) subgenre. Do you think that, in terms of exposure, a band that fits such a description may have a “ceiling” within the general scene? What about those that are against politicizing music or just against the left, should a musician that stands against fascism care about not reaching or losing those listeners? Would you drop some mouth shutting (or opening) band names?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I’ve seen some leftist BM bands on “Best Metal of 2021” lists from fairly big magazines and sites, so I think there’s a higher ceiling now than at any time previously. RABM has grown massively in the last couple of years.
I understand not every band wants to be a political band. That’s fine. I listen to a lot of bands that aren’t political bands. But when a band goes out of their way to avoid taking any political stance because they don’t want to lose fans, that’s just weak. I guess some folks just wanna be rock stars and don’t mind if their audience and scene are full of nazis. It would be great if all bands that held antifascist beliefs would make it clear. Otherwise, it creates a space for fascists to feel safe. RABM creates a very unsafe space for nazis.
The fact that the black metal scene is generally accepting of fascist bands tells us a lot about the scene. It’s sort of a microcosm of society as a whole, where people will put up with systems of oppression as long as they aren’t personally being oppressed. So, for a scene that claims to be so rebellious, black metal hasn’t done a very good job in this area. Some of these bands will use satanic imagery, yet at the same time, they preach the same hateful, discriminatory message as the Christian Right. They’re really just maintaining the status quo. That’s hardly dangerous or “edgy”.
Subterráneo Webzine: On the other hand, there’s a huge community behind the RABM acronyms and the antifascist movement in black metal. There is great support among bands and musicians. Buying merch or music; sharing, liking, commenting… Also, many of you are donating to different causes all around the world, supporting people’s fights and trying to help with their needs. With part of whichever amount of money that you get from your music, and that’s usually already destined to be an investment for the next release. You, as a TUMULTUOUS RUIN, donate quite often, don’t you?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: The RABM community is very supportive of each other. I love that. Maybe that comes from having a common purpose and just generally being like-minded. Also, there are so many rad RABM bands now.
Yeah, I donate to various mutual aid groups with profits from merch and digital sales.
Subterráneo Webzine: Continuing with donations, when you choose a cause to support, you are usually also choosing an organizing entity. How do you pick who to collaborate with and to make sure that donations get to the right hands? Which causes have you supported so far?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: Mostly word of mouth, I suppose. Some of them I was already familiar with. Food Not Bombs has been around since the 80s and I was familiar with them since my days hanging out with crust/peace punks. The other ones I became familiar with through trusted sources and word of mouth. Some of the other mutual aid groups I’ve donated to are No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes (humanitarian aid in US/Mexico borderlands), AARF LA (anarchist mutual aid in Los Angeles), and Critical resistance (prison abolition).
Subterráneo Webzine: As everyone must have noticed by now, the number of solo projects has increased in recent years, and not only the COVID ones. Why do you think this is happening? Internet and more tools at hand, personal expression or, as I said above, compositional freedom…?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I think it’s mostly because it’s so easy to do now. That’s the simple answer.
Subterráneo Webzine: Seeing all these individual artists always makes me think: what about the community? I don’t believe creating music has to be a collective effort, but it does feel like this extract of the world is, of course, in the same path as a society, getting more and more individualistic. How do you see this matter as a solo musician?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: Honestly, I think most people doing solo home recording projects would probably be doing something else by themselves anyway if they weren’t making music. This is a way for the fellow hermits of the world to express themselves. It can also lead to making connections with people in real life. Like, I’ve ended up meeting a lot of people this year as a result of this project- meeting up at shows or whatever. So, I think it’s more of a positive thing than a negative.
Subterráneo Webzine: What about live shows? Do you think you will ever take TUMULTUOUS RUIN to a stage?
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I don’t want to say I’ll NEVER do that. It has been suggested to me a few times and it’s definitely intriguing. For now, though, I have no plans to do anything live.
Subterráneo Webzine: There’s always room for more questions, but there must also be an end. Or a “to be continued”. These should be your last words; please add anything you want. And, of course, thanks so much for your time and answers!
TUMULTUOUS RUIN: I just want to say thanks so much to Subterráneo for the interest! It has been a pleasure. Cheers!