Stunning limited edition metal art book unveiled

Khaotica's Lariyah Hayes and Darkadya art book promo pic
(Image credit: Emily Harris)

The brainchild of Laryiah Hayes, frontwoman for US blackened melodic metallers Khaotika and a talented artist in her own right, Darkadya: The Book Of Art From Down Below, is the first in a series of hefty, must-have volumes bringing together some of the most visionary and nightmare-inducing artists to inhabit the underground metal scene and beyond.

Featuring the likes of Vincent Castiglia, Watain’s Erik Danielsson, Gaahl, Metal Hammer photographer Ester Segarra and many more, and weighing in at 175 pages, this first tome is available as pre-order only from until ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ on Sunday May 22, and all the profits for the book will go to one artist of your choice. Says Laryiah, “This is my way of saying thank you for what they do, as I, myself, have a big debt of life to pay back,” and we spoke to her about the roots of the book, the purpose of dark art and more.

How did the idea of the book come about, and how hard was it to put together?

“Everything derived, really three months ago, from my search to find out online names of artists of certain album covers I absolutely love. Around the same time approximately I was working on a commission artwork myself, and had a small conversation with another artist about art being really behind the scenes. That’s where I said, quite jokingly, ‘There should be a book with artists’ profiles to find out their works, their styles, and everything they offer’. He said, ‘Then go for it and make it happen’ in so many words. I was very lucky to already be friends with some of the most marvellous artists and I inquired for their co-operation. They all agreed that it is a great idea. Vincent Castiglia and Mark Riddick as well, and today, they are the leaders of Darkadya 1, and Darkadya 2. It is time to show the importance of art. After all, they make the visual message, translation of the music, really.”

How closely are art and music connected for you?

“Oh, they are equally important and identically of a value. No question about that! Some will say ‘I don’t need art to listen to the music’ but they forget about the fact that when they listen to it, they connect emotionally and their mind creates images which makes this connection within them. There is no music without art and there is no art without music.”

Although all the artists have their own unique styles, what would you say is the common thread that runs through them, and that drew you to them?

“Darkadya does indeed have that one theme that connects them all and it is the shadows of life, the dark arts. Some have a very ‘in your face’, even Satanic approach to this subject, and some paint or draw beautiful pieces and it would take a while to see the pain and suffering in between the lines. I absolutely love the fact that many hide a lot of symbolism, metaphors or legends of the dark times in their art. Sometimes it takes a few days to realise what the artist wanted to bring across, sometimes artist intended to leave an art without explaining so the receiver could add their own story to it.”

Is there a mystical or transcendental aspect to macabre art, and if so, how would you define it?

“I would say is that the mystic of this sort of art comes strictly because of the artists’ attachment to their pieces, and the reflection of their dark, misunderstood, twisted, at times insane characters. The macabre is considered as one, only to those who fear such aspects. Artists have the power to manifest the darkest, most condemning truths about this world, without saying a word. Thanks to them, many messages are being saved as history. Art is a messenger that is meant to target only those who can read it, who understand it. The rest are simply sheep that follow what is given.”

Were there any artists you’re particularly proud of getting to contribute to the book?

“Yes, all 50 of them, hahah!. I honestly could write a book about each artist, but this is just me and the way I, especially recently, take art – deeply and emotionally, with a great analysis and lots of time spent on each piece. There are a few names that I would like to mention, of course. Erik Danielsson, leader of Watain, a band that to me and my family means more than just music, but I prefer not to extend this subject any further; I knew he was an artist for Watain, alongside a couple of contributing artists, but I honestly did not know that, under the name of Trident Arts, had such a wide range of art, and his methods of making it as well.

“Another one is Gaahl, whose art I also found out accidentally while making a research and i took me a while to read a message behind his art, and intrigued me a lot. Vincent Castiglia, the protege of HR Giger who pains, some of the most exceptional and precise pieces with his blood; Ester Segarra, whose photographs are simply outstanding, hands down, and then going all the way to my close friends, such as Krieg White, Tim Izykowski, NKH and many more who I didn’t even know they did make art because that’s how much it means to them. I would really take a lot of time to talk about each and every artists who deserves it, without a doubt, but to make it easier - the book shows it better than I can even explain.”

Darkadya: The Book Of Art From Down Below is available for $70 (approx. £48.22) until 2 minutes to midnight on Sunday May 22 here.

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.