Eikenskaden, and The Skaden
It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Stefan Kozak died on August 9, 2015.
Though I never met him in person, I worked with him on several music projects through my label, BlackMetal.com. He wasn't your cliched metal head "dude". He was thoughtful, intelligent, sensitive, specific, and dedicated to his music with a passion. His passion was obvious, as was his immense talent.
The last album to ever be released on BlackMetal.com was his THE SKADEN "You Will Hope I Had Died" CD. It was released on December 10, 2009. It is fitting, now, that it is the last for us here. I am honored to have been a part of the recording too. He wrote lyrics for me in France, emailed them to me, and I recorded vocals for him using his words, in the USA. He took my vocals and expertly blended them into "The Suicide of Thoughts" track. I am forever a part of his musical legacy and that makes me very happy.
I remember emailing Stefan to work out the details of this project back in 2008/2009 and he specifically told me he did not want "satanic" symbols and devil text all over his release. This was true of all his releases. He did not want typical black metal crap - the pentagrams, satan, etc - plastered over his artwork. I very enthusiastically respected those wishes. That is why the design is a little more minimal on Stefan's releases, when compared to other releases on BlackMetal.com. He had a wonderful sense of graphic imagery, and he always knew what he wanted for each release, and it was always right on.
Often his imagery featured beautiful women (and their beautiful vocals, which he so loved), but just as often featured ugliness and death, reminiscent of Joel Peter Witkin. It was that juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness, sadness and joy, that made his work so memorable and hard-hitting. Above and beyond it all, there was always a pervading sadness.
His music was unique. I love unique. His style of black metal was as he called it "romantic black metal". How can black metal be romantic you might be wondering? He blended emotions, doubt, despair, with equally emotive and at times beautiful music, and at other times outright aggressive black metal attack, in a way no other black metal band has or could. His black metal meant something. His albums included classical music interludes between songs, often Chopin's Nocturnes, to paint the picture of an eerie, sad, and unnerving world. That is the world we live in and he captured it, in all its difficult dichotomy.
From photos I saw, I knew that he was very proud of his guitars and took extremely good care of them. He was an accomplished, skillful, but most of all emotive guitar player.
So it is not a surprise that most of Stefan's musical and lyrical themes were overwhelmingly melancholy. With titles like "there is no light at the end of the tunnel", "Romances", "The Suicide of Thoughts", and "Pain and sexual Overdose Delusion", you just knew these pieces were written by a man overwhelmed by genuine emotions, despair, love, and above all else passion. These are rare qualities in black metal. Hell, these are rare qualities in any of us.
Yet his humor, and disdain for traditional satanic metal, was also evident in the title of his EIKENSKADEN CD release on Tumult Records "665.999". A joke on the much over-used "666" theme.
I remember Stefan asked me to submit some photos of myself for "You will hope..." CD booklet artwork, and I took some basic photos and he was like "no no no" more provocative and dark! So I re-created photos for him that were reminiscent of my MSR days and he loved them.
The title of our last blackmetal.com release couldn't be further from the truth, Stefan. We hope with all our hearts that you were still with us. You will be sadly missed.
RIP Stefan Kozak.
- Debbie Jaffe, owner of BlackMetal.com
"You Will Hope I Had Died"
December 10, 2009
BMC66611CD - OUT OF PRINT
"There is no light at the end of the tunnel"