Gates Mega-Sin #5/2003:
With this issue we are starting with next proposition, and it will be a column dedicated to Polish, non-existent bands, which in some way leaved their impress on our home scene. The cycle will begin Xantotol, which deasappeared 7 (what a concurrence he, he...) years ago. Surely for some younger readers Xantotol will be completely unknown, not very important band. However you should know that at beginning of 90's it was one of first Black Metal bands in Poland. I will not envenom here about unusuality or cult, because everyone should qualify by himself if such band as Xantotol deserves this name?! For me personally it was one of the most distinguishable and important Black Metal bands in our home underground and I dare to say that without its contribution this scene could look a little different... And everything started in Kutno, July 1991 on Mala's and Venom's initiative. I am sparing the reporting of following facts from group history, because you will find out about the most important things from well-informed persons, i.e. Mala and Venom. I succeeded in inducing them fore some recollections...
When for the last time you've answered for questions in Xantotol's name, and do you think that lot of people still remembers this band ?
Venom: I don't remember when it was. Lot of interviews still came after end of band activity.
Mala: Frankly speaking interviews were generally done by Venom. In matter of band memory, I have to admit that I'm being still surprised with questions about Xantotol, generally during our present performances. So there are people, who are remembering, and this memory is still alive.
You've started with band in 1991, and you were then one of few Black Metal bands in our country. However not everybody knows, and especially the younger generation, that just Xantotol was one of first bands, which initiated the Evil One's playing in Poland. Of course Kat or Imperator are here out of competition, I mean the second Black Metal wave, which started to prevail at the beginning of 90's. How were you received at the scene, where still Death Metal were dominating?
V: It is undescribable what were happening then at Black Metal scene, and even if so, then not many people could understand it. Black Metal was a music, a phenomenon existing only in underground, and people were following such rules. People in Poland, and generally in world, were thirsting for this music, and in spite of environment "decentralization", we were finding each other fast and we layed the foundations of this, what made the greatness of this music. The response for Xantotol, as for e.g. Mastomah or Taranis, was immediate and very favourable. In those days all Black Metal formations acted as the environment consolidators, and musical matters were only one of components. Death Metal never disturbed us. I should say that its part was proper for us, because popularity of this music caused that Black Metal was standing in the background, where its place, and not at color columns of magazines and in widespread shops.
M: I subscribe to what Venom said - nothing more to say.
At those times practically all black metal hordes had the evil effigy, used corpse-paint, declared war to everyone and everything. Xantotol in this way decidedly was different, you didn't strained after cheap tricks. For me it is a big advantage, however I suppose that you are realizing that just from that reason you didn't gained the suitable interest among then black metals, because you were not too extreme, so to say?
V: All this circus with face painting was the beginning of end for this music. It caused that this music became more attractive, what brought the wave of its popularity. Hardly anybody was perceiving the real essence of this music, or rather of this cultural phenomenon. We've been always separated from this circus, what appeared from fact, that we just had something to say, so corpse-paint and running in the woods with torches for making some photos was not necessary. Black Metal is not the bucket of paint or kilogrammes of metal jewels. Unfortunately the fact that just such party-likeness gained the popularity, was nothing but the proof that at least 90% of receivers were not sufficiently developed to read and interpret correctly this music. The worst was that those painted morons started to create a model and this marked a standard of behaviours for those, who entered this world. We have never been anxious on such popularity and we've done our work anyway, also sale of our productions was always well. Of course we could sell much more, but at the cost of selling ourselves?
M: Being extreme in matter of corpse-paint etc. was always for me some misunderstanding. For me the obvious fact was that it didn't proved anything and in my opinion it wasn't something natural. I don't regret that we've got "lost in the crowd" at all - it wasn't after all our intention to keep our heads above water at all costs. I was very glad of voices from people, who understood and appreciated our work and that was enough for me.
Mala, in Xantotol you had a job of vocalist and guitarist. For not--informed lets mention that your vocals didn't belong to sweet and tender squeaking he, he... How did it happened that you landed in metal band and you started to "growl" there? Today women in metal bands are no novum, but once it awaked the pretty large sensation, wasn't that so?
M: How did I landed in the band? With the natural change of life, it was just fated for me... And indeed, girl in black metal band was something unusual. Although nowadays there are much more such women, I suppose that reactions of people, in spite of widespreading of this phenomenon, are still radical. Personally I heard many favourable voices, but also many negative, and indeed those last-mentioned was giving me the kick for further, more intensive work.
Personally I like your "vocalization" in Xantotol. However I suspect that for your throat it was a pretty hard work. I wonder how did your family and closest friends reacted to your doings, how did people from climates behave toward this?
Quite the reverse! Growling is giving me a huge pleasure, and exercises from the past created the ground for a lot more stronger vocal handling. With the other people reactions I admit frankly that more persons is wondering now than was then!
I want to ask you yet what do you think about Sinister or Arch Enemy vocalists, which are now one of the most well-known growling ladies?
M: First and second are very unique, though I prefer more Sinister. However I admire most the vocalist from non-existent Acrostichon, she just throwed me on my knees! And generally I will always be a true David Vincent fan.
What does Xantotol mean anyway and where from you adopted this name ?
V: Well, with our name some history is connected. One day incidentally Leon, Nightmare's vocalist, told me about it and according to his words it has to mean someone close to magic and all black arts. I enjoyed this according to its non-banality. The funniest thing is that Leon some time later asked me what Xantotol word means, and he sweared that he never heard it before.
Your official publications "Cult Of The Black Pentagram" and "Thus Spake Zaratustra" were released by Witching Hour Prod. Was that the only label, which were interested in Xantotol? How do you remember the co-operation with Bart, and what did he succeeded in doing for Xantotol?
V: Just after reh demo "Glory For Centuries" releasing we gotten offers from few labels. As a curious detail I will mention that just then, i.e. 1991 - 1992, "Hammer Of Damnation" from Finland offered us a CD releasing. At those times releasing Black Metal at CD was perceived as a kind treason and step forward into commercialization, it was just a shame. Well, we refused... while Graveland accepted the offer... no comments. Beside the mentioned label there were some more, for e.g. from natives Pagan Records made us an offer, but we rather prefered to not release anything, than expose us to co-operation with firms, which didn't secured us for, lets say, kind purity and reaching to areas, in which we were interested. Label fulfiling this conditions was just Witching Hour Prod., which released our two productions and personally I was satisfied with co-operation with Bartek... unfortunately it won't last. I remember that I always wanted to release something in Greece, but there were no such posibilities then.
How did it came to dissolve the band? Did you have, after "Thus Spake Zaratustra" recording, some compositions, which never reached a studio registering ?
V: After good sale of "Thus Spake Zaratustra" Witching Hour offered us recording and releasing of a new product. We agreed to that, steered by previous very good co-operation and mutual understanding of needs. Bartek wanted a CD format, and we, after initial resistance, agreed also to that. It was 1996, so any fight with CD format was just then meaningless, everyone was releasing it right and left. Together with Mala we prepared about 60 minutes of new compositions for record entitled "Czort". Unfortunately after some time Bartek started to put off the record session dates and it lasted like this till now, ha, ha... Unfortunately. Bartek even didn't deigned to explain what is happening, he just disappeared. This situation met together with general poverty of the scene, so together with some other reasons it became the cause to Xantotol dissolving. Of course it wasn't a decision from one day to the next. We have never recorded "Czort", but I think that somewhere still exists some rehs with this stuff. Though I don't have them.
Xantotol's music had its specific climate. I hear indeed some Hellhammer or Samael influences, especially in first recordings, but you were for me always recognizing and not to mistake with any other band. Do you think that Xantotol created something unique?
It never was, at least my ambition to create some new, specific and super original sound. Admittedly Xantotol was recognized easily, especially than everybody else played like Burzum or Mayhem. In some moment it just wasn't hard to be original ha, ha... However for sure we created a new quality in beyond musical categories. Practically only Xantotol had some sensible voice, the other groups lost their minds completely. Our deep engagement in "Order of the Left Hand Path", very concrete knowledge in this matter, caused that it was something unique, and perhaps today not to repeat. Xantotol was something like institution propagating the specified values. At those times we were strongly connected with "Order of the Left Hand Path", "Order of Nine Angels" or "Luciferian Light Group".
M: Personally I think that every created by someone output is worth of notice, and is unrepeatable. I also see Xantotol like this. I never could and wanted to take pattern by other bands and I think that I succeeded in this.
As one of the first bands (if not the first) in Poland you used F. Nietzsche's texts in your compositions. I remember that this adoptions were differently taken. Does it happened that someone took your band as nazi?
V: We were first, it is our patent. The fact of any associations of Xantotol, Nietzsche with nazism is caused just by mentioned mind-losing. Personally I didn't expected that everyone will understand the essence of this operation, as also will translate Nietzsche into "Order of the Left Hand Path" matters. Such situation were conducive to easy differentiating people into so-called "true" and "untrue". I suspect that today not much have changed in this matter. As every philosophy, also this requires the large degree of understanding and an art of interpretation. It can't be understood directly..
M: Exactly, to summarize what Venom said, human nature has a tendency to interpret facts in a superficial and easy way. Beside this don't forget that at "Thus Spake Zaratustra" part of lyrics are excerpted from A. Crowley's "The Book of the Law". What do you say???
Do you come back to Xantotol recordings? Which one of them belongs to your favourite and why? And generally would you be in position to play your compositions now ?
V: When Xantotol existed I didn't listened our music. There was always something irritating me, something wrong, what could be done in other way, that soup was too cold etc. Everyone who created anything knows what I mean. After years, when I took a distance, when I've began to feel this music as something what was not my contribution, I founded that it is very good. I often come back to this music, I can listen it for hours. I think that the most engraved on my memory is "Fallen To Arise". It is such a time machine. And could I play it now? For sure, it was a simple music.
M: Of course, such things are not to forget, besides this music doesn't belong to the most difficult ;) All the time I have also in my head our unregistered ever last material. I put too many heart and workinto it, to forget all so easily. Favourite compositions? "Fallen To Arise" and "Devilish". Perhaps because there are connected with them some interesting histories, which are bringing back the memories.
How would you react if someone wanted to release Xantotol again, lets say at CD? Would be some problem with it?
V: There were such propositions, however the situation was that I had to take a decision by myself, and I didn't wanted to do that. If there will be someone, who really would take up with it, then from my side there won't be any obstacles. Of course it is a purely hypothetical situation, because it is hard for me to generalize now.
M: I'm affraid that I wouldn't succumb to a temptation of rearranging a little the compositions...
What is happening with Siwy, the bassist of Xantotol? What do you do by yourself? Did you, after dissolution of Xantotol, played elsewhere yet?
V: Siwy is the man living in his own rate, and when I'm looking at him I feel like in 1993. I think that he didn't lost anything inside from those years. I have a hardly perceptible contact with him, but I know that he is breeding the Pitbulls and he even got married lately. Siwy's part in Xantotol was very limited. We prefered that in Xantotol was playing friend, not necessarily being in the line, then someone being in the line, and not closely connected with us. I wouldn't change Siwy for a thousand of soiled by make-up "trues". In that time we played at indigenous formation of Siwy entitled Bicz, which was playing strongly vanguard music.After Xantotol I didn't played anywhere for good. Yes, I played, but I never engaged myself, because all my heart and soul I left in Xantotol.
Mala, it seems like as the only person from Xantotol you are actively acting at the musical scene. Now you are playing in Kayzen. I didn't heard this band, but I think that these are not the same climates?
M: It is good that I have a chance to answer this question. Kayzen is a completely different climate; I will not qualify here the music, because today it became impossible. On the contrary to Xantotol this band don't have any ideological foundations, it is rather a way for expressing the strong emotions, so to say... Except me, as a person, Xantotol was never connected with Kayzen and never will be.
You started in a nearing time as among the others Behemoth and Graveland. Both of them are still existing and they are doing well. Behemoth is gaining an international renown, Graveland still is invading the deep underground. However these are still very active bands. Did you heard their last records? What do you think about their to-day's music??
Graveland is the main guilty one that Black Metal became in Poland so popular, as popular should not be. This group was just the first, which stabbed this phenomenon in the back and exploited Black Metal in order to raise their popularity. From the other side the member of this group was my great friend and one of the few conscious persons in those times, Capricornus. It is such a paradox. On the one hand a garden party, on the other hand Capricornus. Of course I kept the contact with the rest of Graveland members, but indeed I understood only with Capricornus., which I've met a long time before he joined the Graveland. I know that Graveland stands now in deep underground but I think that they have finally found their place. Graveland is now acting as it should and thank them for that. However that is a pity that history of this group concured to ruin the Black Metal in Poland. Beside this I don't know if it is now in underground, because it wants, or because it have to. Behemoth - very interesting music, more interesting and more, but all the rest is a good way to... Eurovision together with Ich Troje. Ways of Behemoth and Black Metal have parted long time ago.
M: I've never burned with affection for Behemoth from reasons not necessarily connected with music, however I'm bowing to their skills. I also don't observe the Graveland career.
If Xantotol existed till now, it would have 12 years on the neck. Did you thought how would look like this band, if it would survive to present times?
V: Xantotol could exist only under the specified circumstances. I leave out the personally reasons, but for sure there was no possibility that group could exist in such surroundings, and not others. In some moment Black Metal just disappeared, and some black rubbish taken its place. It is necessary to have a respect to oneself, so it couldn't be allowed that such important for Black Metal history group at least in Poland, would be associated with all this rabble. I know that many people are disappointed that Xantotol don't exist, I also would like to play longer, but it has to be known when to stop. If Xantotol would exist until this day, not much would be changed, it was a complete band from the beginning. Perhaps we could have some more members, but the very idea for sure should stay the same, as not much in this way have changed in my life.
M: I will frankly admit that I didn't wondered about it till now... In a way Xantotol had to quit, as went away an epoch, to which it belonged, the epoch with unrepeatable climate, which got lost forever. I just don't see the place for Xantotol nowadays. I know that it sounds like I have about 100 years, but after all I have almost so many, ha, ha!
We will end for now. Thanks a lot for a wish of answering this recollecting interview!
V: I also thank you. It was nice to recollect. Traditional regards for those, who in spite of years going by, still holds the left side of the path and I wish them the persistence in what they do.
M: And I thank you. Greetings for all.