As a long-time fan of Endvra's particular brand of occultist dark-ambient, it's something of an understatement to say that I was surprised by Chris Walton's new project, TenHornedBeast. Keeping the same cthonic darkness as his previous project (now indefinitely on hold as Chris and Stephen follow other paths), THB is a far different creature. Taking doom stylings and torturing them out of all recognition, THB's debut CD-r "Ten Horns, Ten Stars" is a monolith of grinding noise and disjointed rhythmic chaos.

Very kindly, Chris took the time to answer some questions on TenHornedBeast, it's hidden meanings and his ongoing musical projects. If I was surprised by his new project then I wasn't surprised that he turned out to be a well-informed, wry and interesting conversationalist

Thanks to Chris for agreeing to this interview and being the paragon of interviewees!

The name "TenHornedBeast" seems to come from the Biblical Revelations - Revelations is quoted on the sleeve of Ten Stars, Ten Horns - and comes pre-loaded with a lot of symbolism. Is there any specific meaning in the name for you and why did you choose it to represent this music? The quotation used in the card sigils is actually from the Old Testament book of Daniel, not from Revelations. The name just came to me one day, literally jumped into my head. I did a bit of research and stuck with it. I really enjoy the language and imagery of the Bible, especially the books of prophecy. It is a very rich and poetic language, born from the fear and oppression of the ancient Israelites. I like names that are both ambiguous and definite. To me TenHornedBeast has all of the eschatonic symbolism of the Bible but put to a very irreligious and maybe even profane use.

You seem, like many of the more developed characters in the extreme music scene, to have an appreciation of (and possibly respect for) the Bible as a work in itself but a distrust of organised religion. Do you think this is a fair statement? And, if so, do you have any thoughts on why it is that a group of people seen by the religious establishment as “evil” or, as you say, “irreligious” seem to have more of an understanding of the Bible? I have a respect for the Bible as a work of literature but I do not accept it as “literal truth” or “the word of God” anymore than I accept that “God” speaks through Mills & Boon. It’s the difference between “Christianity” and “Christendom” - I have no truck with the theology of Christianity but I do feel that the cultural and artistic benefits of Christendom are worth having. There have always been people who have rejected the consensus-based exoteric explanations of orthodoxy but in the past such views were potentially fatal. The Mysteries are not for all; they are by nature esoteric and mysterious. Those who achieve this knowledge know that it comes at a price - ostracism and allegations of heresy or worse. The truth hurts.

There are a large number of interpretations of the Beasts within Revelations - from literal creatures to analogies of republican governments. Do you agree with any of these or do you hold your own interpretation? There have been many interpretations of the various “Beasts” mentioned by the various prophets. There is one school of thought that links the Ten Horned Beast of Revelations with the Hellenic expansionism of Alexander the Great, the ten horns being the various victories and conquests of Alexander. I prefer an older explanation. The horned beasts of the Bible represent the outcast gods of the ancient world that were replaced by the Cult of YHWH. Much as the Hebrew prophets tried to suppress and banish them they rise again as figures of fear and destruction, heralding the end-times and cataclysmic change. There is something sterile and intellectual about the Abrahamic religions, they place too much emphasis on books and codes and laws and covenants. The horned beasts are an atavistic resurgence from a time before people over intellectualised, when it was gnosis and experience that counted. It’s no surprise that as soon as Moses’ back was turned they began to worship a Golden Calf.

In the same way that Baal became Beelzebub? Why is it, do you think, that Christianity especially seeks to control and prevent peoples’ more “base” desires? Is it merely for control? Christianity spread through the medium of the late Roman Empire so as it spread it became intrinsically linked with political power and control. Power elites always seek to control the plebs - these days when religious and moral authority is negligible they use money and economics to control society. In the early days of Christianity they sought to usurp and redefine the existing pagan cults - as most of these cults had an explicit sexual element that became taboo and forbidden. I think that it is primarily for the purposes of control - although I’m sure Christian theologians would argue that by turning ones back on earthly pleasure there is more energy to devote to the spiritual life. I disagree.

TenHornedBeast's music is very dark and chaotic in form with a lurking presence hiding behind the sounds. How do prefer to compose your music? Do you have any idea of what the music will sound like before recording? What instruments do you use? With TenHornedBeast I wanted to use the traditional instruments of guitar/bass/drums but put them to uses that subvert their sounds. It is a challenge to use these instruments and extract sounds from them that they were never designed to make. I really have no traditional musical talent and that leaves me unhindered by musical orthodoxy. I make music by ear, building it up layer by layer then peeling it away again. To get the sounds specific to TenHornedBeast I use a lot of distortion and reverb. I’m very interested in creating new sounds by adding multiple effects, reverbs going into distortions into chorus into reverbs into more reverbs and so on until the sound actually plays itself, if I could get a sound that would play itself forever in some sort of ouroboros-like circle that would be perfection. I try to make the dark shine. I wanted the sound of TenHornedBeast to be very different from Endvra. I have always loved heavy doom metal, one of the first records I bought as a kid was the Black Sabbath “Neon Nights” 7” in 1981, I was blown away by the b-side which was a live version of the epic MK II Sabbath track “Children of the Sea”. I love slow music, especially slow heavy music. It’s a bit like jazz - there are endless interpretations and revisions of the original “jazz” sound. I’m doing the same with Black Sabbath - reinterpreting their blueprint and revising and mutating it until I have a new sound.

And I wonder what Ozzy would make of TenHornedBeast?! Do you have any favourites - doom or not - in the current extreme metal scene? Hahaha - I don’t know what Ozzy makes of anything these days, I suppose it depends what medication he’s on. Ozzy is just a corporate muppet with a shrew of wife pulling his strings. He’s the 3rd best singer Black Sabbath ever had and hasn’t made a good record since Randy Rhodes died. He’s not getting anymore of my money. My interest in extreme metal is limited to doom, current faves include Unearthly Trance, Lair of the Minotaur, Reverend Bizarre, Grand Magus, Falcon, Orodruin, Khanate/Sunn etc. There will always be a place in my heart for the classic doom of the 70s/80s as well - Vitus, Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Cirith Ungol. It’s always with me.

The sounds within Ten Stars, Ten Horns are unmistakably evil with their very dark atmospheres. What leads you to create this music? Does it come from somewhere within yourself or do you have any specific influences when writing music for TenHornedBeast? I have never had to try too hard to presence the darkness. I have always had it. It is so much a part of my personality that I don’t know any other way to make music. To me this is not especially evil or dark, it’s just the only way I know to express myself. Influences - musically Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Winter, Skullflower - the usual things. Influences go far beyond just trying to emulate the sound of another band. The bleakness and darkness of TenHornedBeast is influenced more by the things I see around me, I try to weave them into the music - not as literal experiences but as allegorical and symbolic references.

Ten Stars, Ten Horns has been released by yourself in a very professional-looking DVD case. What led you to release your music yourself? Will other TenHornedBeast releases come for you directly or will you be working with other labels/distributors? Presentation has always been very important. I can remember buying records 20 years ago and being disappointed if they came in low quality poorly designed packing. On the other hand if something looks good and feels like the artist has put some time and effort and thought into the presentation of their music then that enhances my pleasure. Its about creating a total experience - for me Celtic Frost’s “To Mega Therion” LP is the best example of this, the art and design compliment the music to create a total work of art. There seems to be a trend for bands to release material as MP3s via a website. I can understand the ease of access but I’m not interested in downloading data through a phone wire. I want to hold a tangible and real object and I think the majority of people who listen to this kind of music also want that. I released the music myself because I never imagined anybody else would want to release it. The last Endvra CD was released in 1998 - so for almost 6 years I was sat twiddling my thumbs. When I finished “Ten Stars Ten Horns” I didn’t know what reaction I would get, whether people would actually care or had any interest. Obviously I hoped they would be interested but even if they weren’t I was still going to release it and carry on. I enjoy the fact that I’m starting from nothing. I’m open to working with any labels or distros who like my work - big or small. We had a checkered label history with Endvra - some excellent labels and some that were a waste of our time. You learn from your mistakes - all I’m interested in is finding somebody who shares my passion for the music.

With regard to your comments about MP3 downloads and record packaging, do you have any thoughts on the current state of the record industry? We are constantly told by the “powers that be” that the music industry is dying because of illegal downloads and home-copying when, personally, I can only see the state of music today getting better and better. Underground music is as strong as ever. If the corporate music industry is in trouble its because they insist on releasing rubbish that appeals to kids with limited attention spans. The trouble with kids is that next month they want something new. MP3s can be used creatively - David Bowie has released material on MP3 via his website but for me it’s never going replace the real object. What happens if your PC gets a virus and you have to reformat - do you lose all your downloads?

What does the future hold for TenHornedBeast and any other music you may be making? You've previously mentioned other TenHornedBeast recordings to me so when will these become available? I am working on new material for a release with Nothingness Records in Belgium. It will be called “Woe To You Oh Earth And Sea”, which is a quote from the Book of Revelations. It is coming on well and I’m pleased with the sounds I am getting, I have tried to make the sounds bigger and blacker than on the first CD but without sacrificing clarity. It’s very easy to get a big heavy sound but I also want to keep a sense of dynamism and movement. The new material has the following working titles - “Cult of the Black Horn”, “The Harrowing of Hell”, “Father of the Frosts”, “Ur-Licht” and “Ruin Ruin Ruin”. One of the things I’m keen to do is explore the concept of “narrow-casting”. We learned from Endvra that there are only a limited number of people in the world who want this kind of music, this was demonstrated when the 1st edition of the “Great God Pan” album in the box with the tarot-cards sold out in a week. The 2nd pressing of a thousand took much longer to sell, because those people who wanted a copy had already got the special edition. The availability of CD burners means that I can make small numbers of professional quality CDs at home and package them in hand-made custom designs. I plan on releasing a series of limited edition CD-R’s in runs between 50-100 units. They will come in non-standard designs with an emphasis on innovative use of materials. I’m working on the first release now and trying to source sufficient quantities of the “material” to make it viable. I hope to have it ready by the end of the year. I will sell these myself and those people who have bought previous releases from me will be informed first of their release.

This seems to be a growing trend in the music underground. Do you think we’ll see an increase in smaller labels releasing limited amounts of well-packaged records as, say, Cyclic Law do? Do you think that the limited audience for underground music is a blessing or a curse? I think it’s a blessing but that’s because I never wanted to be a rock star. I have never expected to make a living from my music, it is something I do because I want to, not to pay the bills. This gives me the freedom to do what ever I want, regardless of whether I think it is popular or will attract an audience. I am a gentleman-amateur; that is not to say I am amateurish or that I don’t expect labels to pay me for the release - a concept that some independent labels seem to have trouble with - but I am not dependent on the next royalty cheque to pay the mortgage. I hope that labels do become more selective, there is too much low quality shitty music with no purpose being pumped out by cynical labels chasing trends and the next-big-thing. Fewer labels releasing fewer bands in smaller pressings with superior packaging would make me happier but the economics of running a small label mean that we will continue to be subjected to more of the same old same old.

Although this is a TenHornedBeast interview, some readers may know you from a little project you did called Endvra. I have to ask: what happened to Endvra? The last I heard was a track on the recent Cold Spring label sampler. Endvra was always Stephen and me, without either of us it is not Endvra so when I began to record on my own I deliberately “re-invented” my self. The last thing we did was the track “Medicine of the Poor”, which we recorded in January 2002 for the “Infernal Proteus” 4xCD and book project released by Ajna. If that is the last thing we record together then at least it came out in a very special package. Neither of us has as much time to commit to music in 2004 as we did in 1994. For about 6 years our whole lives revolved around the band - we recorded for hours each week, we did album after album, interview after interview. I am very proud of what we achieved as Endvra, we did some good work that stands up in that genre a decade later but things change. We both have other commitments and have to squeeze things in around that, it’s like trying to keep all the plates spinning at once. There might be another Endvra album, when we have the time again. Never say die.

How can our readers get your music? Do you have a website or can they contact you directly?There is no website yet. It’s not something I’m competent to do and being tight fisted I’m loathed to pay somebody else to do it. For the moment contact me at

Well, thanks for your time and interesting answers. Any final comments before the curtain comes down? Thanks for allowing me this opportunity to vent my spleen. TenHornedBeast will only get stronger.

by Dan_H, September 2004

This article comes from Foreshadow Magazine

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