Jun 2024 07

Kristof Bathory speaks with ReGen about the latest Dawn of Ashes album, the evolution of the band’s sound, and balancing the musical lifestyle.
 

 

An InterView with Kristof Bathory of Dawn of Ashes

Merv Uzzell (Muzz79)

From the band’s earliest aggrotech efforts to becoming a leading entity in the merger of extreme metal and electro/industrial, Kristof Bathory has guided Dawn of Ashes over more than two decades. The release of Reopening the Scars this past April marks the band’s reunion with the eminent Metropolis Records after five years, with the album picking up where 2022’s Scars of the Broken left off; issues of mental anguish, anxiety, and depression all come to the fore as Bathory augments the band’s shock and awe with some of his most emotionally challenging and personally introspective material to date. ReGen Magazine had the opportunity to speak with the Dawn of Ashes founder and frontman on the development of the album’s lyrical themes, along with a few wors about his more ambient work in Void Stasis and Bornless Fire, maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a working musician, and following the Left Hand Path.

 

Reopening the Scars is the band’s first on Metropolis Records since 2019’s The Crypt Injection II. How does it feel to be back once again with Metropolis?

Bathory: I feel Metropolis is the right label for DoA. They have been really working hard on getting this album out there and pushing it. Speaking from experience, a lot of labels lack in certain areas, and I feel Metropolis has been showing that they actually care about the band’s progression. They are very hands on with everything. It’s a breath of fresh air.

You’d said that Scars of the Broken was on a personal level your most important record to date, and Reopening the Scars continues that deep dive into some dark personal subject matter. A lot of artists say the writing process is a great way of metaphorically shedding old skin. Do you feel like you’ve finally shed what you need to? Or can we expect a trilogy of Scars albums?

Bathory: Reopening the Scars was yet another difficult album to mentally deal with. A lot of awful emotions were being dealt with in that period of writing this album. I felt like my mental state was even worse than on Scars of the Broken, which created an even darker and emotionally uglier album than the previous. Honestly, I think I will take a break from writing for DoA after this to cleanse myself from all of this negativity and just focus on pushing this album all the way.

Do you write with a subject in mind first, or does the vibe of the music unlock a memory or feeling that inspires you?

Bathory: It all depends on the album. Sometimes the lyrical concept dictates everything, sometimes the music dictates everything, and sometimes my emotions dictates everything. It just depends.

 

 

Again, to tie in the new record with the previous, Scars of the Broken felt like a turning point in your sound, like everything that came before it merged and manifested into this new-sounding DoA monster. Do you feel as a band you’ve finally defined your sound?

Bathory: Most definitely. It’s really challenging to perfect that sound. Experimentation throughout DoA’s career helped finally mold that perfect sound. Scars of the Broken and Reopening the Scars showcase DoA’s true sound.

To further that last question a little, DoA fans will particularly recall your shift in direction on Genocide Chapters; there was most certainly a divided response to it. Did this prevent the band from taking any further risks sonically?

Bathory: Honestly, I feel like Genocide Chapters had its pros and cons. What DoA is doing now is what DoA should have done with that album. However, it gave me an opportunity to experiment with the extreme metal side of things. It eventually became natural to fuse both sides together because I was already familiar with the industrial side of DoA.

Your ambient side project Void Stasis brought out its second album Viral Incubation last year. Away from the pressures of fan expectations, and writing heavy lyrics for Dawn of Ashes, does working on Void Stasis feel like a vacation in comparison?

Bathory: I work on Void Stasis and now my solo project on Cryo Chamber Records. Dark Ambient has to be one of my favorite styles of music because it’s all about vibe and the beauty behind various types of soundscapes. It brings you to a dark world of tranquility, which I need in my life. Poking the hornet’s nest in a world of anger and negativity sometimes depletes your emotional energy. I needed to escape that side of my life.

Are there any other musical avenues/genres you’d like to explore that you haven’t already either with DoA, or solo?

Bathory: I have some new things in the works, but I can’t mention them right now. Videogame and film scoring is something I really want to get into. Bornless Fire is coming out with a second album, and I am working on more ambient albums.

You started your journey into music pre-internet; like it or not, social media in particular is almost a necessity to function as an artist these days. How do you feel about that, and the shape of the industry now compared to back when you started?

Bathory: The internet was once a very amazing tool for music. However, in the last few years, I have felt that a lot has changed, and it is now incredibly difficult and more challenging with all of the algorithms on social media. People are more focused on making irrelevant reels and music that is just absolutely terrible. It seems like people are more interested in music that is a joke than actual talented good music. It’s a very interesting era.

Would you have preferred to be a young man starting a band today in 2024?

Bathory: Not at all. I probably wouldn’t be doing music to be honest.

I read you were inspired as a kid by bands like White Zombie, Pantera, and Sepultura. Do those bands still resonate with you? And what, if any, new bands excite you today?

Bathory: Most definitely. I do not really keep up to date with a lot of new artists, but I have found some new stuff that I really enjoy. I am pretty all over the place when it comes to music. I don’t really listen to one specific genre or artist.

Touching before on technological advances, I’m always keen to hear artists’ thoughts on the use of AI in music.

Bathory: Depends on what you use it for. AI with mixing is incredible. I feel the same way about AI as I do with social media. You can use it for the right purposes, and you can also abuse it.

 

 

Moving away from music, I’m assuming you’re still a vegan. As someone myself who tried the vegan lifestyle, I know it can be tough at the best of times. How do you find it when you are out on the road?

Bathory: I am very strong about being vegan, but don’t really overly advertise it to others. When I’m on the road, I treat it like any other diet. I manage. It’s sometimes also difficult because I am very strict on what I put into my body. I try to live a very healthy lifestyle and sometimes it’s very difficult on the road. You just have to do what you can do.

You follow the occult practice of the Left Hand Path; I’m fascinated to know a little more about that, and how it plays a role in your life on both a personal and professional level.

Bathory: It’s something that would take more time to fully explain, but in a nutshell, the LHP focuses on self-deification – putting your self-growth as a priority and invoking the internal spake (black flame) with various forms of ritual work. Lately, I have been out of practice with that type of work, but from experience, you are somewhat consistently doing the work naturally. Music, for instance, is very ritualistic for me, and helps to keep that fire burning.

Thank you for your time. Have you anything you’d like to add?

Bathory: Just that Reopening the Scars was incredibly challenging, and I appreciate anyone that picked up the album or listened to it. The support is always important to me.

 

Dawn of Ashes
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Metropolis Records
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Photography provided courtesy of Dawn of Ashes and Metropolis Records
 

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