Barak Tor is a dungeon synth project I have enjoyed since the very first release, Silent Passages and Hidden Realms (which I reviewed on the zine in April 2016). Since then his music has progressed very much in sound and composition. Barak Tor’s unique brand of barbaric dungeon synth is very appropriate and fitting for this zine for obvious reasons, and in this interview I interview the mastermind Barbarian Wraith King about his project, history, progression and vision.
- Greetings Barbarian Wraith King! Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview with Barbarian Skull! Please provide us with the history of Barak Tor. What is the meaning behind the name?
Hails Warrior Nathan! I thank you for dedicating time to my project and for this interview/presentation. Barak Tor established in December of 2015. My aim was to perform epic dungeon synth, since I was a “fan” of the old 90’s scene. I’ve already had a dark ambient project but this time I wanted to remove from obscurity and absurdity and explore the epic side of thy self which I always found fascinating. As a reader of Sword and Sorcery literature and huge fan of Conan The Barbarian, this change came very natural. Barak Tor is fictional place derived from an old board game back from the times of my childhood named HeroQuest. It was the resting place of an evil wizard, who after his defeat was recruiting his power.
- Barak Tor plays a unique style of dungeon music which combines orchestral influences with atmospheric passages. What are your main influences for the project, both musical and otherwise?
As a listener I am coming from the black metal sound, a genre that I follow and serve close to 20 years now. I discovered dungeon synth from black metal. Mortiis, Wongraven, Erevos, the dungeon moments of early Burzum and some more . So I guess that a big part of inspiration springs from there! Soundtracks I believe have also a big impact to me. Conan The Barbarian, Braveheart, Red Sonja, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The 9th Gate, The 13th Warrior, Lord of The Rings, Excalibur, Ben Hur, just to name a few epic ones and some classic stuff like Wagner or Prokofiev (who actually I believe lives in the music of Poleidouris, Kilar and Shore)…Besides music I love reading horror and sword and sorcery literature of the previous century. Now for Barak Tor I subconsciously derive pictures and ideas from R.E.Howard, Karl E. Wagner, Michael Moorcock, Tolkien, Tanith Lee.
- Barak Tor began as a project heavily inspired by the game Hero Quest, but has since seemed to evolved into more barbaric and warlike themes. Can you speak more about this evolution? How much of a role does Hero Quest play in your newer material?
When I first saw HeroQuest when I was a kid, I was captivated by the Barbarian who stood in the front cover of the game. From my early age I was obsessed with Conan’s figure so I instantly connected this figure to Conan. Also Barbarian was the hero I always chose when I was playing this game with some friends back then. I started this project when I was at my parent’s house and saw the game box forgotten in a closet and covered by dust. A storm of fond memories conquered my brain and I decided to give birth to Barak Tor. I didn’t want to use once more a name from Tolkien’s universe. So HeroQuest was a cool source of primal inspiration. I saw though that many new artists dedicate their projects and built their music not only to Tolkien themes but also to role playing games games, which is completely fine by me, but it is not for me to follow. To be honest I was never a maniac game player so I couldn’t find the course that my inspiration will follow in order to expand. So I decided to make a slight turn and focus only to the Barbarian figure .I describe my music as ‘Barbaric Dungeon Synth” not only because of the concept but also because is simple, straightforward and quite monolithic as barbarian prehistoric civilization. In my new effort you can find not only in the music but also in the titles a straight connection to Howard.
- Your latest release March of the Triumphator came in several different special editions, can you let our readers know more about these different editions? How successful has the album been thus far?
I am in the pleasant position to say that all the copies are long gone. Actually the physical material gone in a very little time, something that I didn’t see it coming. I thank all those warriors and brothers in arms who supported me by buying my music. On the other hand this fact “scares” me a little bit, because I don’t want people to support Barak Tor because DS became a short of trend lately, but because Barak Tor’s music have really something to say to all those people. Anyway, there were three different editions. All the versions included a quality shaped metal pin (I wanted everybody who gives his money at least to possess a jewel like the pin), an idea which I stole from Oldenhelm. The other 2 versions were a standard jewelcase including a patch and a pin and the digipack version including a pin and a battle banner. Except the physical material there’s the digital version which has a bonus track (I En Svart Kiste – Satyricon Cover).
- March of the Triumphator is by far the greatest Barak Tor release to date. One thing I noticed is that it seems that you are no longer using synthesizers primarily, but may be working with virtual orchestra libraries. Is this correct? If so, will this be a permanent change in your sound?
Thank you Nathan for your words. Yes it’s absolutely correct. I don’t know if this is going to be permanent, since I cannot tell what future will bring and which will be my future needs. When I was composing “The March…” I wanted to give a Grande kind of sound. To give a majestic perspective on my music and come closer to epic soundtracks that I always loved , something that I couldn’t do by using only keyboards. There are demo recordings of the album played only by keyboards and it sounds completely different. Still good but far away from what I wanted to give. Many tracks sounded like a Zelda tribute haha! I tried to find something fitting to my appetite. So I reconstructed many parts, rearranged the tracks and of course I recorded everything from the beginning. I have a sense that I achieved my goal and I glad for it.
- March of the Triumphator and your previous compilation CD The Black Citadel of Bellthor featured artwork by Abigor Mugerza, who is known for his art for the legendary band Elffor. This has offered a new level of depth to your physical presentation. Will you continue to work with him in the future?
Abigor Mugerza except of an amazing artist is also an amazing guy, deeply rooted in the underground and d.i.y. philosophy which I always respect and hail. I found always his art in all Elffor’s albums extremely captivating. I love the way he uses the colors, the style of the landscapes, the figures, the whole presentation. All his paintings have something really bleak and grim. I think that too, that the whole result ascended and artwork played a huge role to it. Continue working with Abigor is something that I want to and I think that this unholy alliance will endure time.
- What is your opinion on the current state of the Dungeon Synth genre?
There are many good projects out there. There are some guys that take it very serious, running small dedicated labels and give to the people high quality efforts and this is really nice, because this kind of attitude help all of us to raise the level of the scene higher and higher each time. As I fore mentioned the sad thing is that DS became a kind of trend nowadays. So I really hope that people that are involved in projects (and this goes to the young ones), to do it because they have an inner need and urge to express themselves through this kind of music and not because it is an instant fashion.
- What can we expect from Barak Tor in the future?
New quests and battles are laying ahead for the Wraith King…when the time is right I’ll strike again… For now I enjoy the Triumph among the heads and the corpses of my enemies. Let the fires burn and bards sing, join the feast and join our Legion…The Strong will Survive!!
- Thanks again for taking the time to answer this interview, any last words are yours!
I thank you Nathan for this interview and supporting Barak Tor from day one! Have a great luck with Barbarian Skull and all your great projects!!! I thank all those who supported my new effort and made “The March of The Triumphator” sold out in a blink of an eye! I hail you! Haters and those who oppose shall feel the wrath of my Axe! Hail and Kill !!!!