Interview – Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

How about an “alchemical” talk with Mr. Bastiën Baron, one of the founders of Dutch metal act Shuulak, talking about their brand new album Citrinitas and their passion for the occult?

Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please begin by introducing the band to our readers? Who are Shuulak, when was the band formed, and what is your main goal in the world of heavy music?

Bastiën Baron: At heart we’re a heavy metal band, but we’ve given it a modern spin and drenched it in occultism. Our goal is to have a street named after us. Or a small town. Preferably the latter.

THM: Although your 2019 EP Citrinitas might be short in duration, there’s a lot of good stuff in each one of its four tracks. Why did you decide to release such a short album instead of a full-length one, and are you satisfied with the final result of the EP?

BB: Thanks for the compliments! There are many reasons for this. But foremostly, releasing a full-length album is a long and costly process. By keeping our releases short, we’re able to do them more frequently, which I think, people will appreciate. Especially in this day and age. That said, as our audience grows, so does demand for a physical release. We’ll relieve the itch soon.

THM: Can you explain in more details the concept behind Citrinitas and its connection to your previous EP’s Nigredo, released in 2017, and Albedo, from 2018?

BB: The EP’s are connected and are named after the steps towards the alchemist’s Magnum Opus; the goal of which is immortality and ultimate knowledge. It’s an ongoing story we’re not finished telling yet.

THM: What’s the main reason why you guys decided to explore such distinct topic in your albums? And can we expect more of this alchemical side of Shuulak in your future releases, or is it time for the band to venture through different lands and concepts?

BB: Alchemy is an exciting journey into the depths of the soul. There are, however, many more paths to take in the world of mysticism and the occult. So, we definitely won’t stop here.

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

THM: It’s simply fantastic to see more and more bands all over the world with women in their formation who are not only their lead singers, but also guitarists, bassists and drummers, which is exactly the case with Shuulak. How is it to have two girls on the band, Eve Laetitia and Puck Wildschut, taking care of the guitar and bass duties respectively?

BB: To us it’s quite.. normal. We don’t really think about it, to be honest. Though, Eve is really happy about it. She’s been the only girl for a long time, so it’s refreshing to have Puck around.

THM: How does your creative process work, I mean, do you all work together on the music and the lyrics, or are there any duties that are performed by only one or two of the band members? The process seems to be working well, as the music found in your albums sounds great, but is there anything the band thinks that could be done in a different or better way in the future?

BB: Angelo and Eve write the music, Bastiën handles the lyrics and vocals. Though it’s not set in stone, the process is quite fluid and ever changing. There’s a lot of back and forth. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ or ‘better’ way to do things. Every song is different, and so is the way we write them. We’re constantly refining.

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music and in life in general, and how much do those influences impact the way Shuulak compose music?

BB: Musically we’re inspired by a great many artists but we don’t copy anyone. We’re all big horror fans and this definitely shines through in our music. Stuff like the books of Clive Barker or Dario Argento’s movies definitely inspire us as well as books on the real life history of the occult and ritual magic.

Shuulak

THM: What’s your opinion about the current metal scene in the Netherlands? Do you think this is a good time for bands like Shuulak to release more and more music and to tour around the country? And apart from the big names like Epica, Within Temptation and Delain, what other Dutch metal or even non-metal bands would you recommend to our readers?

BB: The Netherlands are very small, and so is the metal scene here. It’s very cozy and a good place to be. As for us, we’ve got our eyes set further. We frequently visit our southern neighbors in Belgium, as well as our friends in Germany.

It’s true The Netherlands is known for a blossoming female-fronted scene and you’ll find many wonderful bands here, but I would recommend a German band: Crownfall. We played our very first concert in Germany with them and not only are they amazingly talented musicians, they’re wonderful people too. So check them out!

THM: What does the future hold for Shuulak? And when would fans from other parts of Europe, from Asia and from North and South America be able to witness the band playing live in their countries?

BB: We’re focused on Europe right now, but we’re not dismissing the idea of an intercontinental tour. When demand is high enough, we’ll definitely visit those places.

THM: Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to send your final considerations, goodbyes and anything else you would like to say to our readers.

BB: We’d like to thank The Headbanging Moose for this interview! To all of you reading this: you’re awesome for making it this far. If you’re curious, check us out on Bandcamp or find us on Spotify. We hope to see you at a show in the near future and are looking forward to finding new friends and disciples.

Links
Shuulak Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | BandCamp | Apple Music

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

Five skillful Dutch “alchemists” of Heavy Metal continue their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment with their brand new EP.

In 2014 in Breda, a city and municipality in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant, a friendship formed during previous musical collaborations laid the foundation for what’s to become Dutch Heavy Metal act Shuulak, whose otherworldly songs, deeply rooted in alchemy and the occult, explore man’s obsession with things that would only  destroy him. Constantly challenging themselves through the years, the band comprised of Bastiën Baron on vocals, Eve Laetitia and Ricardo Kroon on the guitars, Puck Wildschut on bass and Angelo Tower on drums has already released three EP’s since their inception, those being Nigredo, in 2017, a concept signifying the first step in the alchemist’s magnum opus with its songs being a collection of tales telling of humanity’s desire for greatness inevitably ending in madness and depravity, Albedo, in 2018, and finally Citrinitas, now in 2019, where the band continues their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment. Not only that, the band does their own recording, photography, video editing and visual design, with their music standing as a testament to the undying power of our good old Heavy Metal, especially in the underground and independent scene.

And Shuulak don’t waste a single second and start blasting sheer awesomeness to our avid ears in the opening track, entitled The Chosen, where Eve and Ricardo cut our skin deep with their scorching riffs while Puck and Angelo generate a rumbling atmosphere in the background, spearheaded by Bastiën and his soaring vocals. Then blending the epicness of bands like Primal Fear with the Melodic and Progressive Metal of Dream Theater and Mastodon we have Altar of Gods, another solid and captivating tune by Shuulak where Puck’s bass punches will make your head tremble, while Eve spits fire from her excellent riffs and solos. In Chaosborn this talented five-piece act brings thunder and groove to their classic Heavy Metal, with Bastiën sounding truly obstinate and enraged on vocals as if he’s marching into battle, while the band’s guitar duo keeps embellishing the airwaves with their old school riffage and Angelo doesn’t stop pounding his drums in great fashion, before we’re treated to the title-track Citrinitas, an eerie, atmospheric composition where the sound of the organs and delicate female voices will hypnotize your senses, as if the band is warming up our souls for their upcoming release.

Hence, while we wait for Shuulak’s next step in their promising career, we can all enjoy Citrinitas, which by the way is a term given by alchemists to “yellowness” (being one of the four major stages of the alchemical magnum opus, and literally referred to “transmutation of silver into gold” or “yellowing of the lunar consciousness”), in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. In addition, don’t forget to follow such distinct band on Facebook, showing all your support to Bastiën, Eve, Ricardo, Puck and Angelo, five Dutch “alchemists” that definitely know how to transform their wicked ideas and thoughts into top-of-the-line Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Chaosborn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Chosen 3:52
2. Altar of Gods 4:39
3. Chaosborn 3:58
4. Citrinitas 1:08

Band members
Bastiën Baron – vocals
Eve Laetitia – lead guitar
Ricardo Kroon – rhythm guitar
Puck Wildschut – bass
Angelo Tower – drums