KOSTNATÊNÍ “Scorched by Strange Suns”
By Dr. Abner Mality
I first stumbled across KOSTNATÊNÍ in 2022 when I decided to listen their strangely titled EP “Oheň hoří tam, kde padl” almost on a whim. I was utterly blown away by the combination of almost unimaginable heaviness and exotic Middle Eastern stylings. I still am! I filed the name away in the “band to watch” section of my memory.
I didn’t have long to wait for a followup. Now signed to Willowtip Records, KOSTNATÊNÍ have returned with a full length entitled “Upal”. This record is equally compelling but manages to have a very different sound than the prior EP. Now I had to find out more about this outfit…
It is really the creation of one man known as D.L. who resides in the Czech Republic and plays everything on the albums with the exception of drums, which talented session drummers handle. “Upal” is a term referring to the effect of heat on the brain. I found myself compelled to contact D.L. and ask him about the KOSTNATÊNÍ experience and the concept of “Upal”. As you will now discover, he is an extremely intelligent and articulate guy who has plenty to say not just about his band but many other things as well. It’s best to bring a cold beverage and maybe find some shade as we venture into the furnace of “Upal”…
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to you, D.L. and thanks for talking to us. KOSTNATÊNÍ will be a new name to many of our readers. I know there is an aura of mystery around the band...can you let us know the origin of the project?
D.L.: Hello and thanks for having me on this site! The origins of KOSTNATÊNÍ are relatively straightforward: I am a musician who creates the kind of music I want to hear, and hopefully along the way other people will enjoy it too. I know there are elements of this band that naturally come across as mysterious, but I feel confident that I've revealed all the info needed to immerse oneself in the project. Listeners already have access to all my lyrics, my location, and multiple ways to contact me; if anyone really wants to know more, the breadcrumbs have been scattered for you to go as far down the rabbit hole as you please. I have fond memories of scouring the Internet to collate different pieces of information on my favorite bands, and I don't regret having cultivated a similar situation myself.
WC: What is the meaning and translation of KOSTNATÊNÍ , if indeed there is one?
D.L.: Kostnatění is a Czech word, and the closest English translation is "ossification", the process of something turning into bone. But "kostnatění" doesn't have quite the same medical connotation that "ossification" does in English (for the medical term you would usually use "osifikace" in Czech), rather it gives a more literal image of something turning into bone. One of the primary themes of the band is the inseparability of death from the human experience, so it felt very fitting to have the name reference the fact that we all become bones one day.
WC: Who were some of the bands that inspired you to follow the metal path? Was there one in particular that stood out more than others?
D.L.: There's a myriad of bands that have influenced my music to some degree, but I could probably summarize my musical history with three milestones: 1) discovering SLIPKNOT as a tween; 2) discovering LYKATHEA AFLAME at age 14; 3) discovering RHINOCERVS throughout my late teens. Each of these bands/collectives fundamentally did what I try to do now with my own music: synthesize a wide variety of influences into something unique and untraceable. They took me somewhere sublime and redefined what I thought possible within music, and all three continue to influence me today.
WC: It’s obvious that KOSTNATÊNÍ also gets inspiration from lots of authentic and native music from all around the world. Tell us about some of the artists and styles outside of rock music that have influenced you?
D.L.: I have listened to folk music from all around the world for many years - I honestly am reluctant to name specific artists because I tend to gravitate more to specific songs or regions, but I love music from the Middle East, Turkey, and the Sahel in particular. But the list of specific cultural references is too broad to list in full.
WC: Is the search for new forms of world music pretty much never-ending for you? Has your own mindset been changed by exploring these various styles and cultures?
D.L.: After listening to tens of thousands of songs from Western music, when you listen to music whose heritage diverged from Western music thousands of years ago, it is one of the easiest ways to stumble into something that still sounds novel. Your brain auto-completes any melody that follows a pattern you are familiar with, and the easiest way to subvert that is to hear melodies in a musical language unfamiliar to you. More broadly speaking, I've always been fascinated by foreign language and culture, and I like to integrate it in a seamless way. I definitely prefer musicians that take a more ethnographic approach to non-Western music... my go-to examples are SUN CITY GIRLS and ROBBIE BASHO, but an example of a metal band that I think does this right is NILE.
WC: The new album “Úpal” is centered on the concept of heat...how it melts things, changes perceptions, blurs reality. How did you settle on this idea as the focus for an album?
D.L.: The first song written for “Úpal” was "Hořím navždy", which is about (metaphorically) setting oneself on fire for the sake of authentic, engaging art, and the futility of doing so. Between this, and the predominant folk influences coming from parts of the world with dry desert climates, I began naturally focusing the album around heat as a concept. An undercurrent of the music, as always with KOSTNATÊNÍ is overthinking oneself into oblivion, and this process has always been associated with "heat" for me, so that was a nice touch as it expanded the range of topics to explore.
WC: Have you ever experienced the disorientation of heat yourself? People through the ages have gone into sweat lodges and the like to induce visions.
D.L.: I have never done so in a literal sense for artistic purposes, and do not plan to. Actually, this sort of self-destruction for the sake of artistic expression is an example of the behavior derided in the lyrics of "Hořím navždy".
WC: The sound of “Úpal” is radically different from the 3-track EP that preceded it...the guitar tuning, the actual style of riffs, the rhythms. Did it take a lot of work and experimentation to get such a sound or did it come easily to you?
D.L.: As I write this, the music to “Úpal” has been completed for almost a year and a half now, so I am speaking somewhat from memory. It is easy to say with the passage of time that writing it was natural and intuitive, and that is definitely true of certain aspects of the album. Overall, though, it undeniably took a lot of work. I feel confident that this is the best album I have released to date, for multiple reasons. At this stage in my creative journey, I don't believe that making something like this - an artist's self-described "best work" - can "come easily", where all you need to do is establish the correct mental parameters and then you just let your mind run free. The final album you heard underwent hundreds of rounds of revision, external feedback sought from multiple close partners, and listening from multiple perspectives across a variety of moods and contexts, over the course of a year. And all this to create a single album that's less than 40 minutes long!
"Oheň hoří tam, kde padl" EP
WC:There’s also a strong sound of early 90’s noise rock on “Úpal”. Who were some of the artists from this area that influenced you?
D.L.: I couldn't point to any specific noise rock artists who explicitly influenced this record other than CHAT PILE, let alone an artist specifically from the 90s. I see my kinship with noise rock artists not through their sound directly, but through the use of unconventional guitar techniques. Some examples: picking behind the nut and behind the bridge (throughout "Skrýt se před Bohem"), crossing two strings on the fretboard and then tremolo-picking them (the lead at 1:00 in "Hořím navždy"), pulling the high E string off the fretboard to create harmonics (1:29 in "Opál" and 1:50 in "Nevolnost je vše, čím jsem"), and so on. I'd say the more explicit influences here are bands like GORGUTS, BARING TEETH, and early DAUGHTERS (who I think can all trace some musical lineage to noise rock, even if not directly) - and I suppose it bears some resemblance to techniques seen in contemporary classical as well.
WC: A lot of songs on the album run together, almost creating one big wave of sound. Only with some of the nature sounds at the end of “Opal” do we get a break. Was the concept to make the whole album one big fever dream that runs together?
D.L.: The songs are definitely meant to flow into one another; the first four songs and the last three songs were written to complement each other, with the A side being themed after "burning up" and being more atmospheric, flowy, folkier, more explicitly Middle Eastern/African... evoking a heatstroke in a more literal sense. Meanwhile the B side is themed after "burning out", and is in a lower key signature, more aggressive, and violent - it is meant to be more of a mental heatstroke, a breakdown. Throughout this, several leitmotifs recur within both sides of the album and between them. So the impression the album left upon you is very intentional.
WC: How did the association with Willowtip Records come about? KOSTNATÊNÍ is certainly a different kind of band for them?
D.L.: Well, the goal is for KOSTNATÊNÍ to be "certainly a different kind of band" for any label! Without going into too much detail, I think it's safe to say that the band is moving in a direction that is more likely to be appreciated by a label like Willowtip. I think the band has broken free of a lot of the associations you might have when you think of an archetypical black metal band - certainly that's been true since the beginning in themes and imagery, and that's becoming more true musically as well. Beyond genre, one trait that I think describes the band well is "maximalist"; it's quite technical for anything in the black metal vein. And Willowtip, as one of the bastions of technical/progressive metal in the 21st century, seems like a natural fit to me.
WC: Is KOSTNATÊNÍ pretty much a studio only project or is there the possibility for live work?
D.L.: Yes, the plan is to go live in the future. I won't go into details here, lest they fail to materialize, but it's planned.
WC: Has any thought been given to what comes after “Úpal” or is it a bit too soon to ask?
D.L.: Not too soon at all. The third album was fully written and mostly recorded in 2022 and will likely be the next released material. Some rough work has begun for an additional release and I have a good conceptual basis for the fourth album.
WC: Are you involved with any other bands/projects outside of KOSTNATÊNÍ ?
D.L.: The only other project of note is GLASS SHRINE, which was my first publicly released music, through which I write explicitly uplifting black metal. There is one full-length released to date and a second full-length which is mostly finished and will be released at some point in the future. I have also contributed to several other projects to varying degrees.
WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?
D.L.: Jesus. Srinivasa Ramanujan. D.B. Cooper.
WC:Any final thoughts or messages?
D.L.: Thank you for reading. Thanks to everyone for your support and kind words. Improve yourself and the world around you today.