Very few women in the world of heavy music are as reserved, taciturn and mysterious as our metal chick this month. Dark and visionary, the idiosyncratic Russian musician/artist Katerina Khoroshiltseva, best known as Terra Teratos, has been playing a very important role (even if she doesn’t want to or doesn’t like the idea) in the obscure and sexist realm of Extreme Metal. She has been breaking many barriers and paradigms with her powerful music through the years, no matter which band or project she’s involved with, becoming an inspiration for many other women that are starting their careers in Black Metal and an icon for admirers of the darkest side of music.
In regards to her personal life, Terra Teratos is so reclusive to the point that there isn’t much information available about her likes and dislikes, personal background or any other intimate details. For instance, except for her Google+ profile, YouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud page, where she publishes selected songs from all her different projects and bands, she’s not present in any of the major social medias such as Facebook and Twitter, keeping her life private even if that means restraining the reach of her work as an artist. Well, at least for me it looks like that’s her goal anyway, remaining as underground as possible and far away from any commercial labels.
Apart from her real name, all we know about Terra Teratos is that she comes from the city of Voronezh, Russia, about 540km south of the Russian capital Moscow and 300km from the border of Ukraine. And that’s it, everything else revolves around her music, her projects and her vision of the world we live in. With that said, let’s focus on each one of her main bands/projects at a time (Terra Teratos and Furva Ambiguitas), and then provide some extra details about her inspirations, experiences and creative process as a musician, as well as her opinion about different topics related to music and life in general.
Perhaps the one-woman project Terra Teratos is the most interesting or distinct work of her career, not only because she’s responsible for all instruments and vocals, but mainly due to the origins and essence of the music crafted. Terra Teratos is an Experimental/Dark Ambient Black Metal project originated in 2006, stemming from the unification of several other individual projects including Teratos (Avant-garde piano music), Mertvye Pesni (only vocals, medieval folk and funeral rituals), Goetia (Dark Ambient), Rokot Voln (Black Ambient), Tierdrama (Black Metal), N.O.V.A.R.A. (Cyber Black Metal), Chaos (Ambient/Psychedelic Noise) and Tern (Symphonic Ambient), all considered a preparation for what the whole project is today. The music, as you can imagine, is an extremely complex and experimental mix of Black, Funeral and Doom Metal, enriched by symphonic elements, eerie noises and a dark atmosphere. To date, the following albums have been released by Terra Teratos: the demo Asphodel (2006), the EP Never (2007), the full-length “trilogy” Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 1 (2007), Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part Zero (2009) and Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 2 (2010), and more recently the EP Ambrosia (2013). In order to feel what Terra Teratos is all about, you should take a good listen at songs such as Evil, My Evil and III, or go to her official BandCamp page for more obscurity in the form of music.
Regarding Depressive Black/Funeral Doom Metal project Furva Ambiguitas (also known as FAAS), which started in 2007 as Terra Teratos’ own idea and is Latin for “obscure ambiguity”, she is responsible for all vocals, keyboards, programming and lyrics, while Russian musician Anton Mrak is responsible for all stringed instruments. The duo has released so far the following odes to occultism and mysticism: the demo At the Bottom of the River (2007), and the full-length albums In Articulo Mortis (2009) and Sacer (2012). There are several interesting songs from that project, as for example Invocation to Hecate, Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, Primus Inter Pares and Debitum, among other dark compositions.
Besides those two main projects, Terra Teratos is also involved with Black Metal band Terribilis, which you can check by listening to the songs Чтобы Потухли Глаза…, На Заклание к Черту! and Баллада (Пять коней), as well as other past bands and guest appearances like Goetia, Lethargia (under the curious name of PanTera or Pantera), Rokot Voln, Tierdrama, Мертвые Песни, Н.О.В.А.Р.А., Rainwill, Absenthe, Burelom, Dregva and Humanizer. I don’t know about you, but for me that more than proves this Russian woman lives for obscure music.
And all that obscurity has a huge influence in the way she sees music and life in general, keeping a good distance from any cliché or pedestrian art. For instance, Terra Teratos believes a band’s name should match with what the listener is expecting, in other words, it should reflect the band’s harmony or the author’s personality, otherwise it’s completely meaningless and hollow. In addition, she also believes that there’s no way any digital source can replace a live analog sound, and as much as you try to imitate it you’ll never get its true identity,. Also, she said there’s no specific scene where her music can fit in, as she stays away from any competitiveness in the world of art. With that said, I guess we can say her music is truly unique and biotic, different from most bands and artists we know and perfectly representing her view of the world, her dreams, reflections and internal needs, becoming more and more organic through time.
Her definition of Black Metal is also very peculiar and totally in line with her ideas and beliefs, as she sees it as a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. In her own words, “the sense of existence of this genre is beyond a pure art. As Hermann Hesse put this in his ‘Demian’, ‘The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.’ A genuine transformation demands a never-ending staying in the bifurcation points which replace each other. That also caused praising of Darkness, Evil, Chaos, War, total correlation with an archetype of the Devil, immersion into the images being the most frightening for an ordinary person – that is, everything, for what we honor the real Black Metal so much, and what the Black Metal really is…” Don’t worry if you don’t understand it at first, what really matters in this case is that Terra Teratos proves through her words how Black Metal is more than just a music genre in her life.
Lastly, when questioned about the future of Terra Teratos, she mentioned the project exists without any time frames, without any objectives being set or plans being made. As long as there’s still something arising, Terra Teratos will exist. And we all hope that’s the case for many years to come.
“Black Metal for me is a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. It is necessary to understand that it is not so much about literal perception of the Death, but the Death as a symbol of total transformation, a transgressive act of coming to an essentially other level, a ruthless separator in all its aspects.” – Terra Teratos