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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
This article comes from Foreshadow Magazine
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