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Eye of Nix Invoke Gothic Horror and Black Metal Menace on "Blood in the Fire"

Operatic vocalist Joy Von Spain and drummer Justin Straw reveal the secrets behind their intoxicating extreme metal magic.

by Ben Handelman
Oct 27 2015, 6:12pm

Photo courtesy of Eye of Nix

Seattle’s Eye of Nix is something of an anomaly, melding its fusion of black and doom metal with touches of post-punk and experimental music, creating something hypnotizing and memorable. With ritualistic pacing and vocals that go from operatic to feral in the blink of an eye, the band has crafted a unique sound that would take many acts years to establish, and fans have taken note: people from all walks of life show up to see what will happen when Eye of Nix has a gig in town.

Despite forming in 2012, the members of Eye of Nix have had serious history, performing in acts like Mongrel Gods and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer. After a few years of touring and a single demo, Eye of Nix dropped their first full-length, Moros, this year and backed it up with a substantial tour of the western United States. To supplement the upcoming vinyl release of Moros, the band has added two tracks to its digital edition (Belief Mower will handle the vinyl).

Stream a new song, “Blood in the Fire,” below, and read on for an interview with vocalist Joy Von Spain and drummer Justin Straw.

Noisey: At Eye of Nix shows, there's a noticable amount of diversity in attendees's age, gender, and musical background. Why do you think that is?
Joy Von Spain:
I look from stage and see faces not homogenized, but showing minds whose commonality might be a thread of curiosity. That inquisitive nature belongs to not just metal nerds but also other badass women, O.G. punks with white hair, witches, the musically-obsessed who have a wall of records at home, kids barely old enough to be in the bar looking for all things new, visual artists…
Justin Straw: I think having a frontwoman as opposed to some dude grunting with a trucker beard accounts for the gender diversity. Obviously women are under-represented in "heavier" music and everyone wants to have their voice represented, or look up to the bands they like, so we've always had a strong female support base. While we musically give nods to artists of decades past, I think we are as likely to show influence from psychedelic Finnish black metal, Wovenhand or Chelsea Wolfe as we are bands we've ingested for decades like Swans, Neurosis, Siouxsie and early Cure.

Your sound clearly draw from classical and experimental music; tell me about the threads you see uniting these seemingly disparate approaches to sound and music.
JVS: Coming to the point where you actually enjoy Masonna and the annihilation of harsh wall noise doesn't usually happen overnight. Anyone who has voraciously downed increasingly intense genres like a drug has probably found themselves inside hurricane force soundwaves out there at the edge of the known music universe. A piece or song that begins in silence and climbs to these weird places, pushing icy noise into blast beats and screams or aria high notes takes a lot of structural choices. You have to build bridges to find a way there—and the whole band contributes by drawing on whatever we’ve learned how to do on our own.



With each member being active in multiple projects over the years, what is it about Eye of Nix that keeps you focused with this specific set of people and sounds?
JS: I think our music and line-up has flexibility and room to breathe. Despite having five members, we're not fighting for space. We've naturally created a style where a certain element of the band will step forward and another will step back, so as not to clutter the sound.
JVS: Gerald and Nicholas have been aligned for about 20 years in various bands and projects. Gerald, Masaaki, and I have worked on an assortment of recordings and live projects together since 2007, and have known Justin for years. The group was put together as an experiment for a one-off, but having a shared sense of humor and a broad spectrum of musical choices has propelled us forward.

Eye of Nix distinguishes itself lyrically from many metal bands by focusing on historical and mythological themes. What compels you to reexamine these tales?
JVS: Thanks for letting me nerd out here! Due to our physiology and evolutionary development, homo sapiens has not really changed our nature in the time of recorded history. It seems myths or gods devised long ago are alive today in human action. Much of the album's lyrics are like hymns to Moros, the ancient Greek personification of impending death. In “Optime Vero,” Zetas learn their fate when captured (and beheaded) by the Gulf cartel. “We Perish” was made from the blackbox-recorded last words of airline pilots about to crash. “Elysium Elusive” relates unwillingness to believe in a utopian afterlife, even as death approaches. “Turned to Ash” conveys the final moment of life, when one has struggled long and finally given over. In “Veil,” Nix proclaims her maternal omnipresence as a cloak of night, backdrop for this continuing sick human theater.

Two tracks have been added to the end of Moros's digital format. What prompted these additions?
JVS: Both were recorded in the Moros sessions, but are thematically different from the six album tracks. These two reach into their own separate realms of style and lyrical content. They can be listened to at the end of the album, and were not considered to be in the flow of the 6 tracks that were pressed to vinyl.

What's the best animal you've met on tour?
JS: Probably the super cute kitty that peed on Joy's sleeping bag in Salem last year.
JVS: Aesop Dekker.

Ben Handelman is dreaming of hops on Twitter.