Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Kansas City based Gothic Rock/Metal band Black Vatican. Huge thanks to them for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

We are Black Vatican. We began in early 2014, with co-founders Erick Ramos and former member Jose Hernandez. Together they made our first EP. Over the years, we had several members come and go, all talented with their preferred instruments. Until, finally, we solidified our line-up with Count Searos (Cole) as the lead guitarist and Erick as the bassist and vocalist.

How did you come up with your band name?

Erick and Jose came up with the name. We wanted a name that would represent the kind of people we grew up with, witches, Satanists, the suppressed, the poor, minorities in general. Not only that, but we also wanted a name that would represent the suppressors themselves. So, the name Black Vatican arose. “Vatican” represents what all modern societies claim to be divine, just, peaceful, correct, and perfect. While “Black” represents the shadows of those societies; everything and everyone they hide, destroy, discard, rape, and demonize for being or thinking differently. This isn’t just a reference of the Vatican itself, but all dominant religions, political parties, social groups,  and all those with enough power that belittle others for personal gain. Black Vatican is the name we wanted in order to speak up for those without a voice while identifying the suppressors in return.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We live in Kansas City, the Midwest region of the United States. Specifically, the metal scene here is still pretty underground with mostly core, industrial and some black metal bands playing weekday shows. The rock scene is much stronger though. Kansas City hosts the annual Rock Fest which is one of the biggest music festivals in the country. We would have to say that the U.S. lacks diversity with its metal scene here.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Our latest release is the witchcraft- and alchemy-inspired album “Arcana Lament”. This album utilizes both raw and equalized sounds and tones. It is Gothic metal with blackened riff in its purest form.

Who have been your greatest influences?

Our greatest influences, at least for “Arcana Lament”, were old-school Cradle of Filth, Abyssos, and  Eluveitie. They are elegant but still have a brute force behind them. Be believe them to be true products of the night and have inspired many of our songs, like Vampiric Combat.

What first got you into music?

It has always been a beautiful way of releasing emotion and expressing one’s self. Erick started playing the keyboard at a young age, while Searos started becoming intrigued when he first picked up an album from The Ramones.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

We would love to collaborate with similar bands like Cradle of Filth or slightly different bands like Alcest.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Bloodstock, for sure! A European tour, because the crowds there are huge, and it would be a great opportunity for us.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

No weird gifts really, rather we sent one to a loyal fan from France. He contacted us politely asked for a signed autographed picture of us. He seemed very pleased and we are happy to have given it to him.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Thank you so much for supporting us. You are our life line, our blood, our motivation to keep going! It’s amazing to see how our music influences others.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

We would bring back Black Moon, also known as David Parland. David was a guitarist in Dark Funeral, Necrophobic and Infernal and had an extremely unique way of playing guitar. We’d also like to bring back Chester Bennington. His lyrics helped so many people accept and surpass their inner demons.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

We love the adventures and the people we meet along the way. The creative process of writing music, and giving the night a voice! But its down side would have to be the finances; thousands of dollars spent on equipment only to be paid a small fraction still baffles us. Also promoting on social media feels a bit tedious. Filling out any kind of forms or spaces can get annoying and it’s typically very time consuming.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

A few things. Have it be less centred on pop music, have artists actually write their own music and not autotune their voices. Make actual good music that has some kind of personality behind it. Also, record labels. They get paid too much for the little they do. These days many musicians can become financially stable without a label’s help, so we suggest they become more affordable in reflection to the economy if they want to stay in business.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Would have to be “The Somberlain” from Dissection and “Together We Summon The Dark” from Abyssos.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

CD’s for certain. They carry entire stories and artwork felt by the band while making the album. But for really raw black metal bands, cassettes work a lot better.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

We’ve only played in small venues. It was in a small place that’s no longer open, deep in Lawrence , KS. Not sure how many people actually showed up since the stage was in the centre of the crowd and there was fog everywhere. Out of the five bands who played there, we were told our performance overpowered them.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Currently we have our own jobs  since being a musician doesn’t cover all the bills. If it wasn’t for the Covid epidemic, we might even go back to school to study radiology or so, or even open up a music venue of our own. We’re ambitious and we like to stay busy.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Would have to be all our friends in our inner circle. We always have a good time drinking, playing games and embarrassing ourselves.

What’s next for the band?

We plan on creating more social media content such as behind the scenes looks and music videos. Also, we are currently in the middle of creating another album. We wish to become gods and won’t stop until we reached a throne amongst the zodiac.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

We prefer to use our Instagram account, Vatican.black676, and Facebook page. We’re always active there and love engaging with our fans all the time.


Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

We’re not sure honestly. Maybe the answer is culturally based; some countries call them biscuits or cakes, while other call them cookies. Whoever made them first should declare the proper title.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Black Vatican has always been a voice for the night and all its creatures. It is our archetype; we strive to be one with the night. Without darkness, there is no light; that below is what came from above.

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Black Vatican – Arcana Lament

Black Vatican – Arcana Lament
Release Date: 18/01/2020
Running Time: 47:01
Review by Dark Juan

…As I continue to whip the poor wretch in front of me, the bands of pain across my back increase, iron hot and tightening across my shoulders, although the pain I am suffering must be nothing compared to the glistening red stripes of agony across her slim, trembling back. Her blood runs in rivulets down her back and stains her skirts a deep scarlet. Yet, still she does not cry out. This wretch, this WITCH, this doer of evil! Thankfully, the Most Holy Inquisition came across her in the commission of her crimes and all that remains is confession before we pass sentence and she goes to meet her dread maker in the bowels of the most awful hell, far from the eyes of the Lord my God, her saviour and saviour of all mankind. How I love him as I do his august work on this evildoer, this hellion! With renewed vigour from my faith in the Lord I swing my bullwhip and open up another vicious wound upon her soft flesh. The red of open slashes now has flecks of white bone showing through. Rib cage and spine are becoming gradually exposed. My Cardinal motions for me to cease my Holy ministrations upon the person of this servant of the Devil. He places his hand under the chin of the witch and raises her face to gaze into his. He speaks kindly to her.

“My child, repent of your sins and confess them and I promise you a quick and clean death and you can go forth to the forgiveness of the Lord our God and live eternally in Heaven. I beg you to confess and end your pain. Only the cleansed can go to the Lord.”

The witch spits blood flecked defiance straight into his face. Her dark, liquid eyes narrow and flash hatred and she whispers, hoarsely because of injury and pain as she replies, voice choked thick with agony and disgust.

“Never. I never acknowledged your God. Your prayers were never for the likes of me and my kin. You seek only domination and dominion over all. You crave new demesnes. Look at your wealth in the silks you wear, how well fed you are, how your skin is unmarked by pox. Yet you want more. You will not hear me scream even as I burn and I WILL NEVER DO YOUR BIDDING! I follow the Left Hand Path and I am a member of the congregation of the Black Vatican!”

Four hundred and thirty six words just to make a tenuous link to Black Vatican, an American two-piece hailing from Kansas City, whose latest offering I am currently listening to, entitled “Arcana Lament”. And a strange, ill-proportioned beast it is too. An arabesque with unsuited limbs. Beauty and perfection subtly distorted in ways that render you uneasy and afraid. Like an elegant, beautiful hand whose fingers are just that tiniest bit too long and thin, and the nails look rather sharper than normal. Black Vatican have taken Paradise Lost, Rotting Christ, Cradle Of Filth and KMFDM and early Ministry and performed gross, disgusting medical experiments upon them and fused them together in some horrific kind of gothic black metal industrial chimaera. This, as you might imagine, makes for an interesting listening experience as these are all fairly disparate influences at work. The song structures and lyrical content lean very much into the dark gothic wonderland that Dani Filth appears to inhabit but then suddenly a song will go cold and industrial and bleak. It’s surprising how well that sort of segue works even if Black Vatican relies on it a little too heavily. Equally so with the short, sharp, choral single note chants that appear on at least three songs. Still, everyone knows that Dark Juan is a sad old goff and this sort of thing is enough to worry West Yorkshire County Council because of the possibility of sex wee flooding. Again. I have to say I am really enjoying the album despite the fact that Black Vatican appear to have used a fucking Bontempi drum machine with the most appalling cymbal sounds and shitty drum tones ever. It sounds like a fucking toy monkey bashing cymbals together over a fat man hitting an upturned bucket with a drumstick composed of rats with rigor mortis. Painfully obviously sequenced does not even begin to describe how shit the drum machine is. Get an Alesis SR-16, chaps, and do it properly, please.

Vocalist Erik Ramos boasts a broad range of tones, from guttural belly rumbling through to a very engaging Dani Filth-esque howl which is regretfully sparsely employed considering this is what Erik excels at. Production wise, it’s ok – everything is clearly heard although everything can be somewhat smothered by keyboards and drums at times. There is a distinct lack of production finesse, however, and there are some unusual breaks in the arrangement of the music and the record clearly sounds like it has been recorded on a budget of 37p and a packet of fags. The guitar sound used by Cole Roberts varies wildly from Akercocke like lo-fi razorwire single string work through to full bore metal riffing with a sound not unlike the guitars on “Cruelty And The Beast” which fits the kind of cold atmosphere the record projects rather well.

I love anything gothic or industrial and to have something that is both is a real treat for me. Fans of gothic metal might find this a challenging listen because of the industrial sounds BV use – most goth metal is a warm and intimate experience closely in touch with the darker parts of your soul whereas BV operate out on the fringes. They are occupied with the darkness and the cold outside of you. The terror without rather than the horror within. Industrial fans will appreciate the cold and dispassionate feel of the record and might also enjoy the slower numbers. Stand out tracks on the record are ‘Morrigan’s Forest’ and ‘Vampiric Combat’. Special mention for unexpected comedy gold goes to ‘Witch Of Scarborough Fair’ which is a gothic rewrite of the notable Simon and Garfunkel classic. Listen, lads, if gothic doom metal gods My Dying Bride can fuck it up royally (their cover of Scarborough Fair is execrable) then you don’t stand a chance with it! Leave Simon and Garfunkel alone!

In conclusion – I totally get what Black Vatican are trying to achieve and applaud them mightily for it. I feel that they might have a problem by having a foot in the camp of both gothic metal and industrial. A judicious lean in one direction or the other may well pay dividends, because the middle ground they inhabit is a sparsely populated one indeed. Also, for the love of god buy a decent drum machine because the one you’ve got is shite! Niggles aside, I’m a fan and I’d love to see what Black Vatican could achieve with a decent recording budget.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has regrettably only ruined one pair of trousers with a modest amount of sex wee and awards Black Vatican 7/10 for a record that impresses with the scale of its thinking, but is let down by execution.

01. Loss, Greed and Necromancy
02. The Alchemist
03. The Vistas
04. Witch Of Scarborough Fair
05. Dreams Of Hecate
06. Morrigan’s Forest
07. Vampiric Combat
08. Again, The Vistas Again
09. Reincarnations Of Dreams

Erick Ramos – Vocals, Bass
Cole Roberts – Guitars


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.