Since we didn't yet have a computer, a friend of ours drew one of our first decent Expansion Symbols

Fifteen long years on the internet. The cliche is true: 'Where has all the time gone?' A whole lot has changed since June of 1998. So many people, bands, webzines and fan pages have come and gone. Some of them remembered, many more not.

A lot has also changed in our personal lives. We've done photography in a half a dozen different houses and apartments. Locally speaking, a few people have briefly appeared and disappeared, helping us along the way.

We actually began our journey with Mourning the Ancient back in the Autumn of 1995, somewhere in the month of October, we've long ago forgotten the exact date. Who was to know this project would last so long? Or that it would be so important to us?

Even though the Fall of 1995 was our 'official' start, things really began a few years before then. The seeds of what would be were being sown. Our love of music and disgust and resentment for the many tragedies of this world were energizing us. Separating us from our peers. To many we were 'extreme' simply because we cared. Most people are too small and too selfish to give a shit about anything other than what is happening in their petty little circle. In the words of one of my favorite songs by the band Griffin: 'They don't worry cuz they don't care'. Others still proclaim: 'Yeah, it's wrong and it's terrible, but what can I do about it?'

circa 1994

[Above: (previously unpublished) Circa 1994]

Well, as anyone knows, doing nothing amounts to the same. And you doing nothing is exactly what they are depending on.

Youthful idealism propelled us in those days to think we could make an impact, however small, combating their lies. What lies are we talking about? Take your pick. But those in the know--know.

We can only brush the subject. We've known, as a growing many others, since an early age, something was seriously wrong with the world. The dark truths set in motion began long before any of our births. In fact, they are age-old. Instincts can be the best teacher. They are seldom wrong.

If you forget everything you've been taught about history, and then relearn through an unbiased source, you will be shocked at just how much the system's teachers have lied to you. The curriculum of both teacher and student is written and approved by those wishing you to remain in the dark. Their power depends on it.

The most glaring example of their lies is World War Two. And no other subject have they invested more time and money in. They pound into our heads their carefully crafted story of WW2 practically since the time we are born.

These pictures describe best some of their biggest lies: Adolf Hitler and the Army of Mankind

Adolf Hitler, National Socialist Germany, dozens of other countries and millions of people stood against the tyranny of this world. A massive war was fought on a world scale in an attempt to end the powers-that-be's strangling grip on the world. Some estimates place the death toll of WW2 as high as eighty million.

But they, our fat, murderous masters, beat it into our heads that Adolf Hitler and Germany are the root of all evil. Popular culture, music, books, magazines, movies and television are overflowing with system propaganda demonizing 'Hitler and the Nazis'. Almost seventy years after World War Two ended and we are lucky if any of us can go a day without hearing some negative reference to Adolf Hitler, Fascism or Nazis.

The fact is, the real tyrants who rule this world almost lost WW2. The whole power structure which had been in place for centuries was about to crumble. Seventy years later and they haven't forgotten how close they came to losing. And most hated of all by these liars is the man, Adolf Hitler, who was a symbol for tens of millions of people, white-black-brown-and-yellow, for freedom, livelyhood, and TRUE peace.

We're not here to convince you of anything, nor do we have anything to gain by lying to you. Truth be told, we could care less what you choose to believe. But we cannot tell the history of Mourning the Ancient without talking about World War Two. It has been that instrumental for us. And that is by no means unique. It is the same with any truth-seeker. The war was indeed that important. It was a true battle of good versus evil. And good lost. And whether you know it, like it or not, World War Two has a big impact on your life as well. It cemented their power for decades to come. But that ill-gotten power, based on lies, is crumbling.

Regardless of what you've been told, Germany and her allies of the 1930s and 40s broke from the centuries old system bent on keeping a tiny minority wealthy and in power. Just think about the statistic that 99% of America's wealth is in 1% of its population. Astounding.

They thought they could bomb the truth into submission, but truth escaped the ruins of World War Two. The following two quotes are as illuminating as anything as to the true reasons of WW2.

  • 'We painted Hitler as a monster, a devil. And that's why we could not move away from that portrayal after the war. We had mobilized the masses against the devil incarnate. And so we were forced to continue in this satanic scenario after the war. We could not possibly have explained to our people that the war had actually been only a preventative economic measure.'
    -James Addison Baker, Secretary of State of the United States, as quoted in the German magazine Der Spiegel, issue 13, 1992.

  • 'Germany's unforgivable crime before the second world war was her attempt to extricate her economic power from the world's trading system and to create her own exchange mechanism which would deny world finance its opportunity to profit.'
    -British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), speaking to Lord Robert Boothby.

    Straight from the dog's mouth. But, now that we've brushed upon one of our deepest influences, back to Mourning the Ancient and the Autumn of 1995.

    Autumn 1995

    [Above: (previously unpublished) Polaroid probably done in September 1995. While the few images we did then are very plain and amateurish, these are some of our earliest experimentations.]

    It was a time of energy and creativity, on a world-scale. An incredible amount of underground classics were created in the early to mid 1990s. It was truly a great time to be a metalhead. It seemed something new and great was being released every day. The underground was still a relatively small community. The internet was still young and metal music was unpopular in the mainstream. Unlike today, things still felt 'extreme' and bands were routinely exploring untrodden musical territory. But by 1995 things were already in their decline in the music scene.

    [Above: (previously unpublished) Another polaroid probably done in September 1995.]

    The first interviews we sent out in late 1995/1996 were to Penndel, Pennsylvania's Deteriorate and Master from North Hollywood, California. We liked both bands a lot, but it was really just a matter of chance of what band addresses we had available to us at the time as to who we first interviewed. In pre-internet days it was a much more difficult process of making contact with bands.

    [Above: Master's 'On the Seventh Day God Created...Master' was released by Nuclear Blast in 1991. A killer work and probably Master's best, it even had John Tardy of Obituary doing backing vocals during a couple of songs. Deteriorate's 'Rotting in Hell' was released by JL America in 1993. Despite the ultra-cheesy cover, the music within was the best of its kind and it never got the recognition it deserved, it was some of the most listenable and violent music ever.

    [Above: A page from the Deteriorate interview with guitarist Frank Ierovante.]

    [Above: A letter sent with the Master interview from frontman Paul Speckman. I especially liked the mention of him being very busy trying to stay alive.]

    [Above: Here is the interview with a primitive letterhead we sent to Master. Note the 'Starvation of Light' under Mourning the Ancient.
    We used this moniker in the early years. It was almost our name instead of Mourning the Ancient. We liked the 'starved of truth' meaning, but Mourning the Ancient won at the end of the day. Perhaps a better, more precise calling would have been 'Mourning the Past', since not all we mourn is ancient.]

    It was a real drag having to use middle-men like photo developers in 1995. As people know that have been following us for a while, we were soon told not to come back after a half a dozen trips to the developer. They all basically said "We don't want your kind of business" (around five years later, when trying to get our film reproduced, the first company told us they couldn't do it because of the Colombine massacre!? Whatever that meant...) So what were we to do then? How would we do photography? We were stopped before we had barely started. Good old censorship. And digital cameras, commercially speaking, were still a few years away. Eventually we got a hold of a cheap Samsung camcorder, where at least we could record our ideas without some holier-than-thou asshole's judgment. We recorded lots of footage in those early years, learning to just grab stills from the video on a computer. We would basically just stand very still for a few seconds and then move on to the next pose. A pain in the royal ass for sure. Low quality and time-consuming. But being poor and inexperienced, we had to make due for the time being.

    [Above & below: (previously unpublished) Here are some stills from our very first camcorder experiments, unreleased until now. The quality is low due to the fact that is was filmed in a grainy mode accompanied by a strobe light.]

    [Below: Here are a few with the mode turned off, in between strobe flashes]

  • Reflections (Molly): Looking back it seems like such a long journey. So many ups and downs, setbacks and struggles. We were young and everything seemed possible and new to us. We really had a lot of fun doing things in those early days. They were chaotic and we didn't really know anything about what we were doing. And it shows, our first few years of photography is very raw!

    The funny thing is that back in the beginning I was a shy person, especially in front of the camera. I really had to force myself to overcome that. To this day when I look at our photography, I don't really see it as 'me', but more like a visual realization of our ideas.

    I remember how exciting it was talking to some of the bands which we had listened to for so many years. I was really amazed at how down-to-earth and cool most of them were. One example of this that sticks out in my mind is an Immolation show I went to back then. We had hand-made a Mourning the Ancient shirt using iron-on transfers. Overall it looked pretty crude, but it was the first one we ever made. Well, before the show one of the band members came up to us and asked me what the shirt was. I told him and he asked me if I wanted to trade a brand new Immolation tour shirt for the shirt I was wearing! hehe. I always thought that was pretty fucking cool and funny. Needless to say, I traded, and furthering my surprise, he wore my shirt during the show. Being a teenage fan of Immolation for a few years, it was quite an honor! I still have the shirt, I wonder if he still has mine?

    [Below: It's kinda hard to read, but here is the Immolation shirt. What's unique and strange about this shirt is how you can flip up the front of the shirt to the inside-- to read 'Christ Denied' which is printed upside down, so it will read correctly when flipped. Confusing, I know... but I think you get the gist.]

  • Reflections (Mike): Those really were fun and frustrating times for sure. It was a funny experience going into the photo developers to pick up our developed prints. The look on their faces when they handed the prints over was priceless. They looked both scared and immensely offended.

    It was always a major obstacle dealing with people. Having to be a victim of their judgment. We were going to learn how to develop black and white prints ourselves after they all told us never to come back. But... as things go, we never did. It was a different age, I'm not sure if our photos would cause such a problem nowadays? There was also a lot fewer developers. These days just about every grocery/department store develops photos, but back then there were only a handful of developers.

    People have asked us why we did the same themes over and over those first few years. I think it's because we were never satisfied with the shoots, they were always fucked-up in some way. Our shitty cameras from the 1970s, no proper lighting, the props kept evolving, being stuck with the camcorder, etc., there was never a shoot where finally we said 'OK, that's the look we were chasing all those years'. There was never a point where everything came together and we had all the technology to capture our vision. Although in May of 2010 we revisited the old props one final time. You can see it HERE

    I think a lot of times we were defeated by our own perfectionism. We wanted things just right and refused to move on until we achieved that. Which we never did, of course. We would do tons of tests when we could have just moved on to new ideas. But what can I say? It was all a learning/growing experience and a strange ride.

    [Above: A lot of our shoots we would draw out certain elements before hand, often to comical results. Here is a funny one from 1996/1997. The resemblance is striking!]

    [Above: This strange photo was derived from the 35mm set below.]

    [Above: (published on our photo CD #1) Here is a crude picture from the early days using an Arno Breker statue. Breker remains one of our favorite artists, and no doubt an influence on our work as well. Needless to say, the picture seemed a lot cooler at the time!]

    [Above: Adolf Hitler and an architect reviewing the works of Breker.]

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

    Here is a shoot that took three tries to get it right.
    Check out our 2014 third attempt HERE

    [Above: (previously unpublished) This is a test photo from the first attempt using the expansion symbol background instead of the later white.]

    [Above: (previously unpublished) While the second attempt looked a lot better, we were still never satisfied with it...]

    [Above: (published in photo gallery page 40) Here is a final version of the second shoot, with the All-Seeing Eye...]

    [Above: Before using a human eye we experimented with a drawing of one...]

    1999 saw five photo shoots using an additional model. A big mistake for us ultimately. We weren't satisfied with the work then, and now looking back we dislike the shoots even more. There is a reason why we call these shoots 'Poison' in the galleries. We realized too late that she didn't share our outlook or vision on any level. I guess we blinded ourselves with the artificial need for another body in the shoots. Nonetheless, it is a part of our history.

    [Above: (previously unpublished) An outtake with a bad angle showing the carpet and baseboard...]

    The end of 1999 was a turning point in our photography. We were beginning to break free of the old mold and we finally started to realize we were better off using a single model. After a few more unsuccessful shoots using another model, we were blessedly on our own at last.

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

    [Above & below: (previously unpublished examples) A lot of people liked this shoot, ourselves included. This shoot was done on October 25th 1999.]

    [Below: We lent a picture from this shoot to Hatemonger Warzine, and also answered an interview for them.]

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

    [Below: (previously unpublished examples) This shoot was done on December 13th 1999. It was the first shoot where we experimented with a softer look.]

    [Below: A behind the scenes smile after a somber shoot.]

  • Reflections (Molly): I remember this is the first shoot that I really liked. We were finally starting to explore different themes. Forcing myself to cry was a mixture of concentration and staring into the photo lights. The shoot looks kinda strange in front of the expansion symbol tapestry. It would have looked a whole lot better in a natural setting. But, in the urban sprawl, sadly it can be difficult to find a location to do photography of this sort. So, like always, we made do with what we had.

    Early 2001 was a time when parties ate into our work time, so often times we mingled the two. March of that year would see the final photo shoot involving another model, and by now the chemistry was not there at all, if it ever was, resulting in failed shoots which we had to redo entirely.

    Here are some examples from the shoot 'Something Always Sings...' from January 2001. We didn't like any of these, so we did the shoot again with a few new elements, which we then liked. Unpublished examples from that second shoot, called 'Fallen' are also below. Many of the pictures below are obviously 'behind the scenes'. I'm sure you'll get a laugh at some of them, we sure did, looking back.

  • All of the photos below are previously unpublished.

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

    [Below: all began with a muddy bucket of skulls!]

    [Below: lack of enthusiasm!]

    [Below: ...cold and wet and slightly inebriated!]

  • Reflections (Molly): I think I look a little bit drunk in those above photos! Getting ready for this shoot was the easiest of them all. No need for hair or make-up to be done, just get naked and cover yourself in mud! As you can see though, we didn't use enough mud and we started taking pictures before the mud dried. As it turned out it looked way better once it dried.

  • Reflections (Molly): The pictures below are a good window into some of our years of partying and working on Mourning the Ancient. Here I'm being a jack-ass for the camera. To tell you the truth I was very bored with this shoot. There was no chemistry. The first thing I notice though about these photos is that I'm smoking cigarettes. Thankfully I quit smoking not long after these pictures were taken.

  • Reflections (Molly): I think I had better chemistry with the skull!

  • Reflections (Molly): The pictures below were done the next day or so. As you can see we used wings and a ton more mud. This finally matched our vision. But only after the mud dried. The pictures with the wet mud below look strange to me, but they start to look much better as the mud dries. It sucks that our camera in those days took such low resolution, shitty pictures though.

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

  • Reflections (Molly): The picture below is how we intended the shoot to look, and is like the set we published at the time.

    [Below: We used a picture from the above 'Fallen' set for our 2002 music CD called 'Primitive Supremacy', released on Elegy Records.]

    Our music project was an interesting experience for us. Our equipment, or lack of, was pretty limiting though. Nonetheless, we were able to put out a CD we both liked and were proud of.

  • Here is an unused voice segment we made for the 2002 CD, but it didn't make the cut.

    - Voice Sample one - (.MP3 format)

  • Here is a basic music track we never used for Primtive Supremacy that has crude harmony vocals at the beginning. It was the only time we tried vocals of this style.

    - Voice Sample two - (.MP3 format)

    In 1999 and 2000 we released two photo CDs. This is where we first created ambient music to play to accompany the viewing of the photos. Below are some examples of unused material.

  • The animated .GIF file above was used on our 2nd photo CD with the audio file below.

    - Voice Sample three - (.MP3 format)

  • Here is a raw demo of the file above with no effects.

    - Voice Sample four - (.WAV format)

  • Here is a raw version of a narration file from our 2nd photo CD.

    - Voice Sample four - (.MP3 format)

  • Here is another raw version of the same narration but with added whisper.

    - Voice Sample four - (.WAV format)

  • Here is another raw version of different narration from our 2nd photo CD.

    - Voice Sample four - (.WAV format)

  • Here is a nearly finished version with music intended for a photo shoot that was cut from the CD.

    - Voice Sample four - (.MP3 format)

    [ -Click here to see the shoot- ]

    This shoot was done on June 6, 2004. It was an unofficial shoot done to test an area. We returned in August and did the shoot 'Lagu'. These are previously unpublished examples.

    [Above: In the ashes... this picture is from the first day of our search. We arrived late in the day so we didn't have much light left to take pictures.]

    [Above: Signs in the sky. The birds heralded what was to come!]

    [Above & below: Day two. A lazy morning by the stream. Far from the city, people and its problems.]

    [Below: Hoping a park ranger doesn't come walking up! But the place was deserted.]

    [Below: In the forest. The green gloom.]

  • Reflections (Molly): This shoot was definitely never intended to be published and looks kind of silly out of context (my pants down around my ankles in a lot of the shots!). But I think it is an interesting glimpse at our wanderings. We hadn't done photography in over nine months, the longest period of inactivity since our beginning. I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic or motivated, it was a depressing period of life. I think that shows in all the photos. Nonetheless, we were about to return a little over two months later and do the shoot 'Lagu', which I think was one of the strongest shoots we had done up until that time.

    15 Years -Page Two