Are you one of those that still believe that black people are only blues rap or hip hop music? Wrong, they can also create metal music that has nothing to envy from European and American bands. Today we talk to a band from Kampala (Uganda), Vale Of Amonition, that have crafted their own beautiful, unprecedented and distinctive sound; A sound that is doom metal and exudes the aesthetics which is commonly found in extreme metal bands. Let’s see what they share with us.
Firstly, we want to thank you, since you’re the first metal band to host from Uganda, here at Last Day Deaf! Tell us a little about Vale Of Amonition. How did you meet and then form the band?
Vale of Amonition was formed in late 2009 in Uganda by me, Vickonomy. I had been into heavy metal for a long time before that and I was this aspiring dark fantasy writer who wanted to take a different route with my storytelling. So I decided to tell the tales of the Vale, this world I had created through music instead of through the actual art of writing and publishing. The tales I kept coming up with, were too nimble and disjointed really and would fit more with the theatre of music than the strict form of literature, I felt. Besides I was attracted to the depth of metal and how you could use this kind of music to communicate a vast array of things. Two songs I kept coming back to in that period were ‘A Sorcerer’s Pledge’ by Candlemass and ‘Satan’s Fall’ by Mercyful Fate. They were made of the stuff I was after…that I wanted to achieve in terms of form and style. I encouraged my close friends to join my band and they weren’t really musicians but they soon learned because they had the love for the music and belief in my weirdness.
Now let’s talk for a bit about your music… I notice that you play progressive doom metal, with many traditional elements but with a morbid twist. How would you characterize your music?
The music is doom before it is anything else. Solitude Aeturnus and My Dying Bride, that’s my heritage… I know the words to almost every Solitude Aeturnus song ever crafted that I could easily fill in for Robert Lowe on stage. That is where I am coming from musically. Theatrical and bleak to the bone. It is bound to be “epic” although that word has been misused aplenty, but our stuff can’t help but evoke a grand feeling because I write from a broad conceptual angle. I approach every song as if it is a movie, like it should be a grand statement or not exist at all. Blacksoul Seraphim is a band I love to bits and they are doing a similar thing but with a more pronounced gothic tone.
What does the band name mean anyway?
Vale of Amonition is a name of a place. That’s simply it. It exists too. The mind is a funny thing. I may be basing it on somewhere I’ve actually been before…parts of me that my father died with. He used to take me somewhere where things I write about seemed possible, so maybe that’s the actual Vale.
Which are your favorite bands? In addition, your musical influences?
I listen to a lot of music on daily basis. I can never limit myself to any specific type. Music to me is life. The bigger influences on the Vale are those you’ll never hear in our music but whose spirit is something I’ve glimpsed and admired and taken from. King Crimson for instance, not in any substantial terms, but simply their use of subtlety and Death In June for their song architecture…their songs are buildings, terrifying and sad buildings. From Diamanda Galas and again Death In June, I’ve learned how to be threatening and inappropriate and from Howlin’ Wolf and Fela Kuti, I learned to maximize vocal expression. I really love and admire Fates Warning for those early records they did, which would easily snap you up and take you on a magical voyage. That in music is very precious for me. I listen and learn. Always.
The lyrics and your music exude a darkish atmosphere; what is your source of inspiration?
Satan is a big topic for me. The feminine side of life too. It is where I dwell. In the dark things…and from there I can communicate with much grace and authority.
Are there any goals you have set as Vale Of Amonition?
The goal is to create quality music that can take you on a journey and lift you up in some way. It doesn’t have to make sense to multitudes. We’ve been accused of being deliberately obscure and esoteric, but that’s not me. I am just an acquired taste and so is my music.
What are the difficulties for a metal band in living and creating in Uganda?
The difficulties are the fact that we are so fucking inaccessible to people both literally and artistically. There’s always the need to want to interpret these crazy visions for the masses but because we’re not normal we don’t even like to bother… We’re just caught up in our creations and we imagine they’ll catch up to us if they wanna. My partner in crime, Solomon Dust, isn’t as severe as me even though he’s a Scorpio, he just wants to rip out on stage and play his melodeath-influenced riffs but I have bigger ambitions and lesser drive. To simply make something unique and lasting.
Your single ‘Of A Painting Grim (The Apostle Gray And The Harvest Black)‘ was top African metal song last October; Congrats! Is this one the predecessor of the next album? Give us some information about it.
Sure. It is the predecessor. The new album will sound NOTHING like our first album. Absolutely nothing. And the one after this won’t sound like this one either. No two Vale records must sound the same. That’s the rule. I mean, it will all be doom but I want to show people you can evolve tremendously within the apparently limited scope of doom without losing the feeling. I mean you have all these stoner bands these days who sound as though they are playing the same song on a whole album. And on the next one as well. Neurosis and Paradise Lost are both doom bands to me but they are approaching the craft from different viewpoints and that’s interesting to me.
Any near future plans for live performances?
There are always plans for live performances but they never materialize. Once upon a time we had to go to Egypt and play alongside Anarchy and now Skinflint proposed we should double up with them but their album is now out and ours is not quite ready. We will play when we’re ready.
Once the Bob Marley said “Africa is our heaven because that’s where we come from”. Which one is your motto?
Bob Marley was just divine. But I’m not a big reggae fan…or a big fan of mottos. Solomon Dust is always one for a good line so he probably has a motto. Me, I tend to mull endlessly over words.
Nothing else to ask, I wish you succeed in your goals. Last words belong to you.
Thank you for loving metal and for seeing fit to interview me. I am Vickonomy. An incredibly tortured being whose only saving grace is my never resting musical mind. Cheers!
Photo credits: NoneShallDefy