Ancient Curses and New Ones- An Interview with Deathcrush
Interviewing Deathcrush was both one of the most rewarding and one of the most difficult experiences i’ve undertaken as a journalist. On the one hand, it kind of made me happy to know that even under extreme difficulties, people still breathe and live this music. That people still create quality Death and Black Metal even when it could cost them their lives. Deathcrush’s “Evoke the Ancient Curse” has that kind of brutality and rawness that many bands sit for hours chasing. That kind of authenticity that comes naturally and cannot be bought for some reasonable price off of a big label’s website. I found myself being quite inspired.by the story. Meanwhile, I was saddened. I didn’t know Khalil or Ahmed prior to the interview, but we bonded over our love of the music, and it saddened me that they had to go through so much. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let it cloud my justice. I brought Deathcrush here based on merit, not because of the story, but being the dazed and disillusioned writing monkey that I am. I don’t really get shocked or feel that sad when I read the news. Yet, seeing these people, good, open minded people, people who I could easily see myself staying in touch with and being friends with, be punished for practicing this art we all hold so dear. It struck a nerve with me. With all that said, i’ll let Deathcrush speak for themselves. Whether it’s the bestial album, their continents spanning story or their determination, I think this article has something that every Metal head in the world could learn from.
Bulldozer: So, Evoke the Ancient Curse is just recently out, how do you feel about it?
Khalil: The songs and written material are good, though i’m not quite as satisfied with the sound. We had to record with shitty equipment and a home made D.I.Y studio. As you know, I wrote all music and Ahmed wrote all the lyrics. There are songs on there which I created a long time ago, almost 4 years. Our level was just not good enough at the time to make it real and the metal scene is really shit in Libya. so when we moved to Ukraine we found a real drummer, who can play well and we started our real work then
Bulldozer: In what spot does it leave you guys, what lessons did you learn from the first record?
Khalil: Well, we learned that music isn’t easy to make (laughs.)
Bulldozer: In what ways?
Khalil: In a lot of ways, because we had enough inspiration from our life and situations to really make anyone play extreme music with feeling and authenticity.Whenever I take in the past, and really, inspiration from real life, the new music comes out even more extreme.
Bulldozer: Speaking of this drummer, Andrey Zagovora, I understand he is Ukrainian, how did you find him? Did you all move to the Ukraine?
Khalil: No, after we left Libya we had a fucked up situation. We decided to move and we had a goal to finish our study and live there, without going back to Libya anymore. Yet other problems arose that made us look for a different place to live, as we weren’t able to continue in the Ukraine yet we couldn’t go back home because of the obvious threats which we had. Following a period of uncertainty, I asked for asylum in the Netherlands and Ahmed did the same in Germany.
Bulldozer: Tell us a little about it, the Title, Evoke the Ancient Curse, what is the Ancient Curse? what does i t mean?
Ahmed: Since the dawn of time, there’s an eternal fight. On one sid is a power that sees itself righteous and pious but only works on burying the desires of humanity, and making them so obsessed with being close to perfection and moral values. To the point that they fall in huge contradictions with themselves. On the other side is another power, known as being dark and occult. Just because it tells us to accept the fact that there is evil in each one of us! That, instead of burying our desires and pretending to be perfect, we just have to accept this evil in us, and not try to suppress it. To let it go free in a creative way. That’s why we, black metal artists, unleash our evil to make music, and art, and we are all gathered together to support each other. Meanwhile religious people just ignore a huge side of themselves, and this side comes out sooner or later. On the social side you will see their anti women and sexually perversive behaviour. On the political side they can be bigots or racists involved in wars and crimes against humanity, the difference is huge. Evoke The Ancient Curse is talking simply about satanism, rituals and the manifestation of all the evil we know
Bulldozer: How would you say that the record deals with this power? what are some of the lyrical themes? and how do they relate to this overlay?
Ahmed: About your second question- I would say that, in the album, the lyrical themes are inspired mostly by hatred, but the lyrics are all about black magic and satanism. We release this evil inside of us, and declare it, we do evil, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The others are nothing but hypocrites that pretend that they are holy and godly, and they just destroy society and make life a nightmare
Bulldozer: So in a way, the album’s lyrics kind of reinspect the whole concept of “evil,” no?
Ahmed: In the place we come from, most people think that evil is just a matter of beliefs, but what about humanity? What if you believe in something , and think you will go to heaven just because you believe in it, while at the same time you violate many other lives just because you’re different or they are different. Evil is not a the problem, people are!
Bulldozer: So tell us a bit about the production of the album. Khalil mentioned a “shitty home studio,” but where was it done? how long did it take? what was the working process like?
Khalil: I have everything in my home but we have a friend who said he’ll help us record. We thought that he’d have cool stuff but he has the worst recording equipment ever, so we recorded all of the guitar and bass material in 2 hours. When we finally found a drummer in the Ukraine, We were practicing with him, but it took us a long time to convince him to record. We don’t know why, but it ended up being the hardest part of recording. Probably because he has a tight schedule. He had to record everything in one go, we did the drums in a day.
Bulldozer: Do you have any plans to approach a label? a distro?
Ahmed: Actually, the first obligation we had was to record the music,listen to our work, and feel it. That was the first goal, just to play the music. At the moment , its hard to tell about labels, I live in a country , Khalil lives in another, we are both asking for asylum. We are trying to get everything done with the documents to meet soon and continue all the work and decide about release. At the moment we are preparing ideas for a new material, I think it will be an even better level
Bulldozer: So let’s talk about the history of the band, you and Ahmed originated in Libya. What was the beginning like of Deathcrush?
Ahmed: It was when I met Khalil in high school. He was very involved and twisted up in this music, and I only thought I knew metal until I knew him. We went through a lot together because our love for this music isolated us a lot. With time though, I found myself playing drums, he was playing guitar and since we can’t play drums in home , we were playing in a forest. That continued for some time until we were arrested by an organisation of “ Islamists” called “Ansar Al’Sharia.” After we we’re arrested we stopped playing until we escaped the country in 2014
Bulldozer: Ok there’s a lot to unpack from the answer, the first is , Khalil, in such a country, how did you get in touch with Metal? where were you exposed to it?
Khalil: I started with Metallica, I saw their videos on television. After that I found a tape of Slayer’s Hell Awaits, from here I was looking on the internet and I found quite a lot
Bulldozer: I imagine it must be quite difficult to get ahold of most of that stuff in Libya, except for on the internet, was there any kind of a Libyan metal scene?
Ahmed: No, only one guy with one band, and he was killed. His project wasn’t complete due to a lack of equipments I don’t like his band much, but at least he tried. He band was called Rex Mortifier, (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Rex_Mortifier/27280) but after the killing, the band has disbanded. The bassist escaped into the U.K.
Bulldozer: Of course, in 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. Can you tell us a little bit abotu the sequence of events for the band afterwards? you talked about an arrest, what happened? how did you two escape?
Ahmed: Wow, this’ll be a long answer but i’ll try to give you the highlights. We were taken to their compound, and they kept us in a blinded for four days. Nothing but being assaulted and waiting for someone to take us somewhere to be beheaded. We were lucky though, they had one guy that they listen to, he was like a preacher, and he said to us ” just tell them that you repented and you won’t play music again so they don’t kill you.” We had no other choice!
Bulldozer: Is that when you decided to escape?
Ahmed: No, after this a lot of things happened. The story got famous in the city, because maybe our city is the second largest city in Libya, but its still a small town comparing to the rest of the world. Everything that happens can be heard and known. So , we were called names. Things sometimes were thrown at us in the streets. We were constantly yelled at, people calling us “faggots” and other insults when we walked down the street more times than I can count. But when Khalil was beaten in the university by people who we don’t know while other people were watching, we decided to leave the country. His shoulder was dislocated and we were so pissed off
Bulldozer: Fucking A dude, sorry Khalil. Hope your shoulder is all better now (and the guys rot in a ditch.) But, lets bring this all into a slightly more positive note- now, you’re in Europe, with at least a chance for moving on. You guys also recruited Andrey in your time in the Ukraine, how did you guys get in contact? is he a full time member?
Ahmed: Well, Khalil has a lot of dedication. Sometimes he comes home, telling me he found a drummer, instrument or he has a new idea that he wants to compose. That’s how the band made it so far, he’s the mastermind of the band. About Andrey, I don’t know honestly, everything is confusing now. Let’s hope first that these countries were asking for asylum in can accept us as refugees and will provide us the protection we need. Then we’ll worry about Andrey.
Bulldozer: With that in mind, you competed the album, does that give the album any special meaning to you?
Ahmed: I really have no answer to this because I don’t know. I don’t know where to start with this. The album is done! I’m learning drums now and as soon as possible Khalil and I will continue with the band, playing the music we love most. We will never stop what we do!
Interview: Benek Astrachan