Consummation proliferated with vigour and malice from Brisbane, Australia in 2012 with their self-titled demo, followed up with several live appearances and then sporadically vanished into obscurity. This silence was not unproductive however, with the band continuing to solidify their craft in solitude …
The fruits of these endeavours were the 2017 Ritual Severance EP (Invictus Productions) followed by the full length album The Great Solar Hunter released June 2019 by Profound Lore Records.
We spoke with band founder Craig about catharsis through creation, underpinning philosophies, mythos, and literature which inspire the vision and future of the entity known as Consummation.
– I discarded at least a dozen names between the project’s conception and the recording of the first demo. The title Consummation came to me unexpectedly as an instantaneous thought one day followed by an instinctual resonance, that ‘knowing’ you get when you’ve got something right. The definition, ritual of completion, seemed a more than apt ethos to apply to this endeavour. First as a creative ethic and secondly for the personal catharsis that I am seeking through this project.
Prior to Consummation Craig was involved in several seminal bands within the Brisbane metal underground as a drummer. Upon founding the band his focus soon became inward, devoted solely to the pursuit of composing Consummation on guitar, driven by passion and the reward of the creative process.
– I started playing guitar not long after I began drumming and it wasn’t long before it took over as my main instrument. Originally, I think this had something to do with easier access, you can play a guitar until the small hours and not be inhibited by people within your proximity. Not only that but once you start creating riffs that you actually like it ignites a similar passion that’s experienced when you first start discovering bands in your early years. That’s the way of it for me at least. I’ve also found song writing to be the most rewarding aspect of being involved in music so the shift from drums to guitar was an inevitable one.
Existing as a way to “challenge myself creatively and to successfully create an amalgam of my favourite elements of extreme music.” Craig sheds light on the importance of sacrifice, challenges and having a creative outlet to deal with existential mundanity.
– First and foremost, I’d say it’s my own personal need to have a creative outlet. There’s a dull, grinding sense of ennui that grows into something much harder to tolerate when the creative aspect of living is ignored. Music is the only outlet I have found that can combat this ignoble sensation. Granted the countless hours of solitude while pursuing the creative process can bare its own rotten fruit, persistence through the chosen sacrifice can produce a satisfaction that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a very good way to challenge the more base elements of your own nature.
Considerable time and effort have gone into the crafting of Consummations sound, lyrics and objectives. Craig delves deeper into the philosophies that inspire the band, how they relate to and are reflected in his music and by extension his own life.
– As far as an overarching ethos goes, lyrically I tend to focus on subjects and themes that I’m exploring in my free time, whether it’s philosophy, mythology or religion. My greatest interest lies in the point where the three meet so this is generally the area that I try to operate in thematically.
– Books that I’m reading at the time directly influence the themes that are injected into Consummation’s music. I don’t really seek reading material out to try and find ideas as I maintain reading as a steady habit. Usually there are more ideas floating around in my head than the number of songs I have ready for application. You could say that this is the connection between the lyrics and my personal life.
Further delving into literature and philosophers which have influenced him – While not exclusive, Frederick Nietzsche, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell certainly played a heavy hand in influencing the themes for this album along with my own inclinations and tendencies. It wasn’t deliberate from the onset but reflecting on the thematic current that runs through the album – seeing as I’ve had to write about it in interviews after its release – it could certainly be said that at the core of each track you will find The Will to Power. By this I don’t mean some romantic, misconstrued perversion of the Overman – like what Elizabeth Förster helped introduce to Germany – but rather a strong sense of overcoming and expanding heavily laced with metaphor and sometimes, religious subtext.
The title “The Great Solar Hunter” gives a strong sense of a timeless and universal archetype of heroism and conquest. This was further reflected in the artwork, lyrics and confirmed by Craig himself who details the nature of a hero as both a champion of life and death itself.
– The Great Solar Hunter is actually a line taken out of Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which is a phenomenal read for anyone interested in hero mythology. The song itself takes a look at the romanticised idea of the Hero archetype and the shift in paradigm when examining actual historical figures remembered as heroes. There is an inseparable relationship between the change that they bring and death on a large scale and yet mankind has always had an overwhelming affinity for these figures. To worship the hero is to also worship death, which is good and natural for some, but western culture definitely seems to shy away from this in modern times.
– Heavily inspired by the previously mentioned names, alongside particular religious texts, the album covers multiple topics that all relate to the shadow nature of man such as acquiring power through a developed capacity for suffering, self-initiation through individuation and ascension through violence (a topic already touched on in The Weightless Grip of Fire). As I mentioned above, these can all be viewed as thematic incarnations of the will to power.
SUBSTANCE & SUBJECT
Further expanding on the above, how do these philosophies correlate with the lyrics and the process of composing music with Consummation – which inspires which?
– I consider each track as an individual piece first and foremost. Once the songs have taken shape, I then consider their relationship with the others. How the material sits together will dictate how it gets released. Each song has to have its own flow first and then the songs are arranged in a way that allows the release to flow as a whole.
He further reiterates the importance of the music setting the direction and details the trials of creating lyrical concepts which reflect the music.
– So, the music comes first and the lyrics second. I want each song to tell its own ‘musical narrative’ first and foremost, then the lyrical content is considered afterwards. The themes and lyrics present on album were given very careful consideration and presented one of the most challenging aspects of the album’s creation. Personally, I find extracting concepts from books or formulating an idea from knowledge acquired over the years to be a very natural thing. This can happen deliberately or unexpectedly when going about something mundane.
Drawing from the prose of other writers for inspiration was not without complications, especially in the initial approach. – Fleshing out an idea into a set of lyrics and moulding it in a way that will compliment an already existing song is quite a challenge for me seeing as I had very little experience with this at the time. In the beginning I was looking to poets like William Blake and Charles Baudelaire for inspiration, which actually proved to be a hindrance. Their command of language can cast a suffocating shadow over someone who is just starting out. In the end I decided to keep my mind away from the writing of others and just focus on fleshing out the concepts to the best of my ability. The end result was hardly poetic but it was something I was quite satisfied with.
For Consummation, creating the foundational track is often a solitary endeavour of chasing an ever elusive “spark” of creativity and grasping it when it is attained with varying results.
– I thrive on extended periods of solitude, especially when approaching the creative process so I’ve never really enjoyed trying to write material as a group. I find it can be frustrating, but I think a lot of this stems from my severe lack of musical knowledge. Most of the time, when writing, I’m fumbling around trying to find that ‘spark’ to kick off momentum. Sometimes this can take days and other times it can happen before I’ve even touched my guitar. Once it’s there I ride it out for as long as I can.
– Sometimes this spark can lead to an idea that becomes an entire song, for example Apotheoses was written from scratch in just a few days. However, most of the time a few segments come together and then I try and see where I can take them. Songs like the title track were written over a much longer period of time. There is material on the album that was written over 6 years ago. Once the songs are structurally sound, I hand them over to Joel and let him do whatever he wants to them. I have complete trust in his taste and ability.
Despite tracks gestating for up to 6 years, Consummation had no releases between 2012-2017 and for a time it seemed to the outside world that the demo would be all that would materialise. Craig provides insights about the perceived silence from the band during these years.
– Fundamentally it was a lack of time and struggling to find the right line up. The demo was very easy to produce. There were no group rehearsals, no drummer and structurally, the material was a lot simpler. Most of the material for Ritual Severance was written shortly after the demo but I was heavily involved in Impetuous Ritual and several other projects at the time and we were also rehearsing with people who were involved in multiple other projects.
It became a massive struggle to get any momentum, so Joel and I decided to scale everything back to focus on writing and recording. I parted ways with the other bands I was involved in, invited Dave into the band to take care of the drumming, and then began focusing on recording the EP and completing the material set aside for The Great Solar Hunter.
After suitable members had been identified and recruited, this new lineup would go on to form the basis for recording “Ritual Severance” and “The Great Solar Hunter”.
Joel and I had worked together in other bands prior to Consummation. He stepped in to write and record the bass parts for the self-titled demo and has been involved ever since. Even though he isn’t involved in the initial writing phase, being as musically educated as he is, he brings a whole new layer to the music that I can’t find myself. His ear for detail compliments the music perfectly.
Dave joined us after a couple of years of jamming and performing with a line up that never really worked out. The decision to disband the live line up and focus on recording material became glaringly obvious after a while. In that time we recorded and released both Ritual Severance and The Great Solar Hunter so now my focus has shifted back to taking this project live. I’m sorry to say that Joel won’t be joining us on stage as that’s not where his interest lies but rehearsals have begun and things are starting to take shape.
Listening to the EP and album consecutively, there seemed to be a current or continuation between both. The similarities were most notable with the endings of “Weightless Grip of Fire” from the EP and “Phosphor Libation” on the album. On whether this was an intentional recurrence or coincidental.
– Initially the EP material was intended for our first full length. The original plan was to go straight for an album after the demo, but things can change in the writing process. A lot of what is on The Great Solar Hunter existed before we recorded Ritual Severance but, to my ears, there was a bit of a gap between the older material and the new. We decided to split the material and do an EP first. This also gave us the opportunity to ‘test run’ the recording process seeing as we have a drummer that lives in a different city.
Craig further states – any similarities weren’t necessarily deliberately intended but half of the album material was nearly going to be released alongside the EP tracks. There were two other songs recorded for the album that we decided to exclude because they didn’t sit well with the others. In retrospect we should have included these on Ritual Severance. Maybe they’ll see the light of day eventually, who knows?
Having members in different cities can have limitations, specifically with regards to recording. Whilst both Dave Haley (drums) and John Gossard (leads) are not strangers to this process, recording components independently has the potential of impacting the overall vision and output. Craig’s perspective on this recording process:
Both the album and Ritual Severance were recorded in the same fashion. We approached the recording of Ritual Severance as a kind of ‘warm up’ for the album. It would seem a little messy from the outside looking in, but it is a pretty straightforward process. The technology is there to be used if you’re willing. After the writing is done, everything is recorded as a demo and passed on to Dave who goes into the studio without us to record the drums. The drum tracks are passed back to Joel and I. We record all of our parts and hand the near finished songs over to John for him to add leads to. When all of that is done Joel and I will add the finishing touches. It’s rather mundane really, but it works for us.
Of note is the clarity and definition of this release whilst maintaining a sharp, harrowing, almost shrill and nightmarish tone. The bass sits in the back and reinforces the choral nature of the riffs, allowing room for the drums to dominate the centre, overall it comes through as heavily mid-focused. As such, there is not much of either “air” or “bottom end” to the release. This lends to a stifling atmosphere and an atypical sound for this style of music in reference to other bands as well as previous Consummation releases.
The end results proved satisfactory for the band, achieving a sound which was complimentary to the writing and vision.
– A lot of time and thought was put into crafting the guitar parts for this release. The majority of the sections on the album underwent a drawn out evolution from their more primitive inception. Joel also gave careful consideration to the underlying rhythm guitars and massively enhanced the underlying obscurity of a lot of these passages. We opted for clarity as a means to not obscure our efforts behind a murky production. It would have been a waste of carefully executed nuance. A small amount of pride could certainly be added to the reasoning along with straying from the expectation of bands who lean towards dissonance.
Aside from the drums – which were recorded by Dave’s brother Joseph – and John’s leads, all the recording and mixing was handled in house by Joel. I sat on the side lines and observed for most of this process. We didn’t really start out with an end game in mind other than to create the album with the best tools at our disposal. Joel spent a long period of time mixing, trying to get the best outcome from what we had recorded. I believe he achieved this.
With the completion of their album and the foundation of a new line-up, Consummation can now direct their vision and will towards live audiences once again. Following years of reclusion and contemplation, what atmosphere and experience will the band look to convey?
Consummation hasn’t appeared on the stage for over four years now. There are many reasons for this, some being mundane and others having to do with what I mentioned previously – line up changes and juggling multiple bands etc. A decision was eventually made to put shows aside to allow us to focus solely on writing and recording an album. I can assure you that this is only temporary. Rehearsals have begun now that the album has seen the light of day. As far as future live performances go, all I’ll say is that I hope to deliver something honest that will do the songs justice.