But maybe you already can guess how the things began to evolve. After rehearsing some years, releasing a debut Cd called „Exsanguis – dem Tod geweiht“, and playing 2, 3 live gigs, the group was already quarrelling and the end was reaching near. But, my dear reader, the story doesn´t end here because I was infected with a virus, a feeling, an urge to express myself artistically also in future. After playing the bass guitar for 1, 2 years I wanted to improve myself, so I also started to play the electric and later on the classical guitar. Beside this I always painted as a passionate hobby, I started to take piano lessons, and I got quickly interested in music theory – or in other words: I was acquiring the abilities to write my own songs and maybe to form my own group. And so did it happen:
After I wrote my first own songs I felt myself constricted with „Exsanguis“ because everyone wrote songs, we argued a lot about them, and one guy was slowly but surley taking over the role of the boss in the band. That was finally the reason why I left the band in 2005 because I wanted to make my own music resp. I wanted to find my own words, my own notes and express my own feelings (yes, I am a quite egocentric person, haha). This idea of an own band soon started to possess me and I spent all my free time to play the guitar and write songs. In the same time I got very unhappy and frustrated with the jobs I worked for, because they were absolut uncreative and boring. I was hiding myself in a world of dreams, music, paintings and poetry, and after a while I was so frustrated that I started to drink more and more. I also was very shy and unlucky with womens which increased my problems. But soon I found the right soundtrack to express my dark and melancholic feelings: I listened all the time to bands like Bathory, Burzum, Mayhem, Primordial, Emperor, Ulver, Summoning or Acid Bath. I never liked the satanic image of some bands, but I was always very inspired by pagan groups singing about the past and our old heathen gods, or fantasy bands like Summoning, which wrote songs about the fantastic book „The Lord of the Rings“. I also was inspired by the lots of „one-man-bands“ in the Black Metal scene and decided that I can do this myself as well. I started to compose every instrument myself, played and recorded them myself (except the drums) and wrote my own lyrics, so I was total independent of other musicians. Still I looked for a good drummer and other instrumentalists to have some support and maybe to play live one day. But I never found the right people and my egocentric character plus the many other problems I had those days made it impossible to form a stable group. But with time comes help: I never gave up and after years of composing and writing I released 2009 a first self produced Cd called „Orizen – The Path into Revelation“ (and by that time I already had material for another album which has now been released – see below). What can I tell you about this release?
First of all it was quite hard to find nowadays an unique and unused band name. I was thinking about a lot of possibilities and in the end I thought a fantasy name is something fine because it is totally free from any associations. I always liked the sound of the word „horizon“ in English – and it fits also to my credo to broaden your horizons of knowledge each day – but there are already a lot of bands with the name „horizon“ or combinations with „horizon“. I also liked the sound of the name „Orion“ and at night I used to watch the beautiful constellation at the dark sky. And last but not least I had a period when I read the very strange, but fascinating poetry of William Blake, who invented a tragic figure called „Urizen“: this god „Urizen“ was the cold impersonation of science and was measuring the world all the time in his sad and depressive loneliness. But again there was already a band called „Urizen“, so I decided finally to call my band „Orizen“, my own fantasy god describing the fictional brother and opposite of „Urizen“, impersonating the creative and free energy of the soul and mind of man (in short: „Orizen“ is for me the god of the power that rises, i.e. creativity).
The album „The Path into Revelation“ is mainly split in two parts (resp. in three conceptual parts, see below): one part is dealing mainly with negative feelings like anger, desperation and the big bang in the end, the other part is about positive feelings like strength, pride and also a lot about nature and its beauty described in poetical lyrics. I tried to create a little world where I could hide myself in the wilderness of nature or where I could identify myself in the feelings that I describe in the lyrics. This was my main goal when I wrote this record.
But when the album was finished I soon realised that there are already dozens of bands with a similar style of music and concept and even though that I was quite happy with the record (considering that it was my first one) I didn´t really invented something „new“ – if that is possible at all today… So to come back to my question that I posed at the beginning of this text: for what reason should I release another Cd in this mass of releases in the scene, where nearly everyone can record his own music (with all the technics we have today) no matter how talented or untalented you are – what should be my motivation behind all this?
Like already said there was and still is a mass of releases in the scene and logically this didn´t increase the average quality of the music – to be honest: there is so much rubbish out there which is not worthy to be released that is very frustrating. Everyone who plays a bit guitar and listens to Metal music thinks he has to release something and Alas, the new, easy and cheap recording technics make it possible! I soon realised that a number of these so called musicians had just rudimentary skills in playing their instruments, and even much more of them had absolutely no clue about music theory, about reading notes or understanding rhythms (one reason for this is by the way the tabulature system of the guitar). In my piano lessons I got soon in contact with classical music and music theory and suddenly a new virus infected me: I wanted to know how the classical masters could have composed on such an unbelievable high level. I was so fascinated by the classical compositons that I went to the next book shop and ordered some old books about music theory and began to study this subject autodidactically. I pored over the books night after night and played very intensively the piano those days (the piano is the best instrument to study music theory). With time I began to understand the bigger connections between the harmonies and started to compose. After writing my first songs with my new knowledge I realised that my music got quickly a whole new level of quality and writing music made much more fun and was less confusing, even though the intellectual demand was now much higher. I could now not only compose music with my feelings, like I did with my first record, but also could compose with my mind by combining harmonies and rhythms in a whole new way. Now my goal with „Orizen“ was clear: I wanted to release classical music resp. music with classical harmonies, but played with an distorted electric guitar and a good touch of the Black/Pagan Metal music that I liked so much!
The result of this new style was a novel album called „Orizen – Of Life, Death & Salvation“, released 2015 after a long period of fighting and struggling with other problems in my life – this is also the reason why it became a very dark and melancholic album, especially the lyrics. But now I had a goal in my life, I wanted to melt Black Metal with classical music, and to inspire others with that idea. That´s the reason why I noted the keys of each music piece and some especially classical verses and bridges in the „basso continuo“, i.e. Roman numerals, which stand for specific (classical) harmonies – I give you an example: the verse I, VI, N6, V in the song „The Visions of all Men of all Times“ is a typical classical harmony which already Ludwig van Beethoven used in his famous „Moonlight Sonata“! (and the cool things about it is, that I play the harmonies with a distorted electric guitar, which gives a total different shade to the music). As a musician our example should always be the classical music: in the Baroque, Classical and Romantic era the European music was so highly developed that the quality only got minor ever since and never reached its peak again. But my goal was not only the classical thing, I also wanted to make with each album a whole artwork where music, lyrics and paintings are combined to each other – or in other words: I wanted to create an artwork where every note, every word and every picture has its place – and everything is self made of course :-). So, I not just wrote and composed everything myself, I also painted the covers of the albums or drawings of a particular song, albeit I had neglected to paint the recent years because music was taking to much creative energy from me. Nevertheless I realised – when I drew my first sketches after a long while – that one doesn´t unlearn to paint and finally I even started to draw again because of my music! For the paintings resp. drawings, that you find on my album booklets or on this page, I used a black and white technic with pencil, crayon and pastel pens, my fingers or a cloth to smear, and an eraser to create certain effects (see here for further information and paintings).
So with all that I wanted to stand out from the common crowd, but I don´t want to say I make better music than the others or the music from the others is not good enough. But what I can say is that I try to do the best music resp. the best artwork that I can produce. So my goal with „Orizen“ is – beside the feelings I try to express – a quite intellectual one. Because of that each album of „Orizen“ will have a concept, a theme, which will be musically and intellectually interpreted. Even the first album had originally a concept, which I didn´t undertook in detail because I haven´t had the money for a lengthy booklet. The next album „Of Life, Death & Salvation“ has, like already discussed, a classical music concept, but also, like the album title says, a philosophical idea about the never ending cycle of life and death. There is a genious German Philosopher who inspired me to the lyrics of this album called Arthur Schopenhauer. Each song on the record is inspired by a quote from him, which you can find in the booklet of the Cd. I read his main work „The World as Will and Representation“ and was totally blewn away from it, but after a long while always dealing with my feelings and philosophical views I had enough of that and wanted to do something completely different. This lead me to the concept of the next, following album of „Orizen“, which is already almost finished and is dealing about our pagan beliefs, gods, mythology and traditions, which I studied now for about three years (and I can admit this theme is the newest virus I am addicted to).
So you see, my dear reader, „Orizen“ wants to be different, wants to be intellectual, and now you may understand why I am absolutely no fan of braindead, satanic „sex, drugs & rock´n roll“ bands, which I really despise and never liked…
I also hope with this intellectual approach of „Orizen“ I can be an example for other bands in future (I plan a lot of new releases!) and inspire other musicians with classical harmonies and „teach“ them our European music theory, which is absolutely genious and incomparable in the world´s history! So, my dear reader, enjoy my music, writings and paintings and feel free to write me your thoughts about them and meanwhile let me thank you for your interest in „Orizen“.
Yours sincerely, Richard A. Leishman, Spring 2015
There are innumerable bands in the Metal scene and since the Black Metal boom in the early 90´s there has been a mass of bands with the same style of music and the same satanic or pagan image, offering the listener music from high artistic quality down to very poor and awful recordings. So why should there be another band in this mass of releases, coming from the small country of Switzerland with the fantasy name „Orizen“?
While writing this introduction I was thinking about this question and, lo and behold, I came to a result! But before I come to my conclusions let me briefly explain to you how everything started: it was in the year 2000, when I was in the tender age of 16 years, when I was spending a lot of my free time with my friends, all listening to the same type of music: Black Metal. It was the time when bands like „Dimmu Borgir“ and „Cradle of Filth“ got famous and started a new, second wave of Black Metal music. My friends and I were very interested in this „new“ music, where everything seemed to be harder, faster, darker and more mysterious than the rest of the Heavy Metal scene. So, one of our clique was already playing the guitar for maybe one year or a half and one had a bit experience in playing keyboards, until one day – while drinking a lot of beers during our long summer holidays after school – somebody came up with the glorious idea to form an own Black Metal band! Everyone was excited, but how should we form this group? Soon we found out that one guy wanted to play the drums, another guy didn´t wanted to learn an instrument, so he chose to sing, so in the end there was only one instrument left for me to play: the bass guitar. Having absolutely no clue about playing an instrument with strings I went to the next music shop and bought a bass guitar (what a time of spontaneity and innocence, haha). We soon started to rehearse and called ourselves „Exsanguis“ (Latin for „bloodless“), a name with which I came up because of my Latin lessons back at school. So this was how everything started.