Behind the Cover: Meslamtaea - Weemoedsklanken

One of black metal's strongest audiovisual pairings has another compelling entry.

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

For as many purposes as art can serve, at the core of it all lies an insular intention driven by covert means yet serving very overt roles. It's the byproduct of an artist's lives and understanding of a particular subject matter, a subject matter perceived in a myriad of ways by the diverse audiences dissecting every element to it. Though their intentions are far from forcing a certain perspective, Dutch black metal outfit Meslamtaea and artist Maya Kurhuli provide a disheartening view of life in the future. These bleak portals into a dystopian world began with 2019's Niets en Niemendal, further strengthened by 2020's Geketend in de schaduw van het leven, and now, the band's newly announced record, Weemoedsklanken, drives home another engrossing foreshadow of post-apocalyptic society. As the Edgar Degas quotes entails, Meslamtaea and Maya do more than provide a staggering image. They provide a canvass for thought and come February 25th, Babylon Doom Cult Records will give way to Weemoedsklanken for all to experience.

For our first Behind the Cover of 2022, it's a thrill to focus on Weemoedsklanken and welcome Meslamtaea frontman Floris Velthius and Maya Kurhuli to a discussion exploring their harrowing imagery, the synchronicity of their partnership, visual intention, and more:

For bands, there’s no shortage of great artists to choose from, each of which has their own unique style and niche. I’m always curious to know, prior to your initial collaboration for ‘Niets en Niemendal’, what drew you to Maya Kurhuli's work?

Floris: Indeed there are dozens of artists offering their services. We regularly receive offers on social media, but for us, it is important that we ‘click’ with the artist and the artist's style should appeal to us. That is a condition for cooperation and that can't be a random anonymous person. Since Meslamtaea makes rather special music, we had a clear vision about the artwork and not every artist can make that. We know Maya from her art for Cultus and her own band Blackdeath. She works as an illustrator and creates images for fantasy and science-fiction books.

maya kurhuli meslamtaea
'Niets en Niemendal’ (2019), Cover Artwork by Maya Kurhuli

Since the themes of Meslamtaea are often about a bleak future and it's loaded with melancholy and sadness, I found that style very appropriate. That's why I contacted her and the interaction felt good. The artwork had to deviate, confront, excite and get under the skin. Maya could identify with that. The brainstorming process with Maya for 'Niets en Niemendal' went very smoothly. It seemed like she could see inside my head. We thought the result was incredible!

I'd agree! That said, to what do you attribute such a great and continuing partnership? This new record is now the third consecutive cover you collaborate on and though it’s quite early to tell, the cover for ‘Weemoedsklanken’ is likely to be among the best cover illustrations of 2022. It’s a testament to your talents and deep investment into the themes and concepts that you both deliver.