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
Spectres Over Arnehm
So, I guess it kind of shows that variety of the Fresh Blood programme that we can have a band like Wederganger, a band which in most underground circles needs no introduction. Formed in 2013, in Arnhem, Netherlands, the band is composed by ex-members of Heidevolk, Mondvolland and Fluisterwoud amongst other bands, yet sounds like none of their ex-endeavours. A unique band in the treaded and retreaded waters of the Metal scene, Wederganger’s music can most closely be described by the adjective ghostly. Their music, while heavy and innovative, hits a listener differently than most Black or Death Metal band. It’s more ethereal, more drab, and in a way, less simple and easy to understand than your average boom-bam-blast beat affair. So, with my full support, I set out to interview this strange new entity, and along the way, I encountered a one sir Botmuyl, who handles harsh vocals in the band.
Bulldozer: Hey Botmuyl, so Halfvergaan ontwaakt has been out for about a year, how do you feel about the record?
Botmuyl: It captures the atmosphere that we want to evoke. It’s dark, gloomy, aggressive and -above all- it breathes the atmosphere of a medieval Gelderland. We still stand fully behind it as it would be pointless to release an album that does not meet the creator’s expectations.
Bulldozer: The musical concept behind the record is unique, the mix of those special cleans and growled black metal vocals, how did you guys come upon the idea?
Botmuyl: It is a natural thing for us. Alfschijn sings about the inevitable impending doom and the end of time. With my vocals I spit fate’s horrid reeking breath in the face of the listener. The combination is the finishing touch to accompany the riffs that lay the foundation of the tale we want to tell.
Bulldozer: The name of the record literally means “Awakened Half-Perish”, though i’m guessing that’s not a good translation. What does the title mean? and why did you choose it? how does it represent the content on the record?
Botmuyl: That’s more or less an adequate translation I guess. It’s the essence of a revenant, one that is cursed and returns from death to haunt the living. It also symbolises our awakening, this is just the beginning of our hymns of Undeath.
Bulldozer: What are some of the lyrical themes the record touches on?
Bulldozer: The unique artwork is done by Karmazid, why did you choose to go with him?
Botmuyl: Karmazid has the remarkable talent to draw our visions in a way that is perfectly fitting with the atmosphere that we want to evoke. He has really outdone himself with the dotted cover artwork, we are very pleased with his creations.
Bulldozer: The artwork itself is both very clean and very dirty at the same time, with the decomposing human on the front, how does that tie in with the themes of the record? What does it represent?
Botmuyl: It represents everything we stand for. It’s a decaying revenant in all it’s decomposing g(l)ory.
Bulldozer: Why did you choose Wederganger as your band title? How does it connect to the spirit of the band?
Botmuyl: It goes against the order of things. When someone or something is dead, it should stay that way. But if the cemetery spits out this poisonous corpse to send it tormenting the living, it’s a horrendous anomaly. The grip of those that hold dear to order and nature’s laws loosens. It can’t be grasped or tamed. That is Wederganger.
Bulldozer: Recently, in an interview I had with Urfaust, they mentioned that you guys are doing a split together, what can you tell us about it? Why did you choose to work with Urfaust in particular?
Botmuyl: Urfaust are brothers. We share history and a label, and highly respect each other’s music. A split release was inevitable.
Bulldozer: You guys are all obviously very experienced and rather high profile musicians, but what would you say you learned from making Halfvergaan Ontwaakt?
Botmuyl: It all went quick and smooth, it was a very productive process. We have the luxury to have some very talented people within and outside of the band to assist us in recording our funeral chants.
Bulldozer: Are you already thinking about what to do for the next full length? Is there anything you can tell us?
Botmuyl: We are working on it. Expect no style changes or experimental wanderings, it will be an immersion in pitch black Gueldrian Undeath Metal.
Bulldozer: So, what’s in the immediate future for Wederganger? Any shows planned? Tours? Videos? Books? Comically oversized list of items for artists to cover all bases? 😉
Botmuyl: Seances are always unfolding. Physical releases will emerge from ancient Gueldrian gates. All will be known when the time has come.
Bulldozer: Any last words?
Botmuyl: A revenant knows no such thing as “last words”.
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photo: Niels Vick Esq
Of False Idols and Relevant Plagues
Valencia is an interesting cradle of Metal civilization in Spain. Situated on the eastern coast, and hosting south of only 1 million people, it is kind of the insiders secret of Spanish Metal. Many of the important bands, promoters and people within the scene hail from Valencia, yet outsiders eyes tend to focus very heavily on Barcelona and Madrid (for the person hoping for a football joke, prepare to be disappointed. In second though, fuck!) One of the bands that I personally think should definitely stop being a secret and definitely ought to be exported is the relatively new Whoredom. Though young, Whoredom are one of those bands that transfer their name and ambience perfectly with their music. It is grand, but it is dark. It is disgustingly monstrous, but it is also incredibly human. Live equally, they transfer these feelings very well. They play in a way that makes you understand the music and in a way, understand the thought that goes into it while retaining the…well, for lack of a more Metal word, fun of going to a show. So without further adieu, here is my chat with Zenon of Whoredom!
Bulldozer: Hey Alex, what’s up?
Zenon: All’s good, what about you?
Bulldozer: Good, good, same old shit. So, Old Plagues For The New World has been out for a year now, how do you feel about it?
Zenon: Well, I still like to hear it which is telling. I’m still proud of it and I think I will always be, especially considering our lack of experience in recording and producing, etc etc. We still enjoy rehearsing the songs, though they don’t sound 100% perfect yet, there are a lot of things to improve. Things we are doing right now, but we are still proud of it.
Bulldozer: What would you say are some of the main take aways and things you learned from doing this EP?
Zenon: Honestly, we have learned a lot of tune ups. A lot from the mistakes in recording, about exercising patience. Endurance. We did rush some of the things on the EP, we entered the studio with a few songs that weren’t properly rehearsed. But again, the result is good, so it’s good with us.
Bulldozer: What’s the meaning of that title? does it relate to the Columbian exchange?
Zenon: No, it doesn’t relate at all to the Columbian exchange. While it could fit in relation to the concept, it isn’t what we were thinking of or is in the contents of the EP. We came up with the title after dealing with other choices we have come up with, this one sounded good enough for us. Powerful enough for us. It has more than one meaning but the main one would be a stance against the modern standards of mankind. We have this materialistic, egocentric, pseudo-egalitarian view of the world of mankind. All in the name of “progress” and “tolerance.” In the end, there are still wars, conflicts, and the “quest for happiness.” An unending turf war for man to endure. We have moved forward in our abilities and our comfort but human existence is as void as it’s ever been. We may live in a golden era, but the ghosts of the past are still here. “Old Plagues For The New World” it’s the same shit as it has ever been for mankind.
Bulldozer: What about these last few years brought to you to this title and theme? What made you think about this?
Zenon: I’ve been reading a lot about anthropology, cultural anthropology and as a matter of fact, I’ve just started studying it on a regular basis. Some authors and some books made me masticate a lot on this kind of stuff. Authors that reflects a lot of violence in mankind. In the character of mankind. Nothing really personal but my own thoughts and recollections regarding the state of the world. A growing disenchantment with the state of affairs right now. When you’re in a kid, you live in a golden bubble, everything is great, your parents are here to help, then when you’re thrown into the world, you have this youngster phase where you think you’re going to eat the world, the world is your oyster, but as you grow it fades. You grow cynical and sardonic with mankind.
Bulldozer: The artwork is also quite striking, beautifully conveying the name in a way, who did the artwork? and also, why did you choose this particular piece?
Zenon: It’s a classic paint by a great master, Hieronymus Bosch. Dutch painter. It’s a painting called “The Temptation of Satan.” You always have the classic painting, the “Garden of Earthly Delights” which is his classic. We were looking in that direction but we looked for something less known and more adequate to our lyrics. The inside illustrations are parts and we tried to make all the decisions match a little bit. The feeling, the lyrics and the content needed to be mirrored by the illustrations.
Bulldozer: So why did you go with this one in particular? you said it connects but in what way? why Bosch in particular?
Zenon: Hieronymus Bosch was a great painter, he painted for for Catholic churches but he also painted really dark and twisted visions. There was a lot of cynical contempt in his drawings. There was a part which was surrealistic, with criticism of the society in which he lived. He painted for example, pigs with human hats and this kind of stuff. It’s a good balance between imagination and reality. It’s what our lyrics aim towards as well, a fantastical representation in our minds of something real. Part real part surreal.
Bulldozer: So the band’s name is Whoredom, why did you guys choose that name? how does it appeal to the band?
Zenon: As you may know, choosing a band’s name is as difficult as choosing your child’s! We considered a lot of names but eventually, the last proposal was Whoredom. It was short, easy, a mouthful and twisted in the right places. The old meaning of Whoredom is to worship false gods or idolatry, it fit our concepts. It reminds one of the earlier things we discussed, always working towards wrong priorities, wrong directions and losing money and time to man made gods and idols. Obsession is another focus represented here that is also very widely represented in the lyrics and in the artwork. Of course, it has the word Whore in it! Which is enough to draw the attention of the children (laughs.) It’s kind of obscene, it fits really well with the lyrics and our dark sense of humor.
Bulldozer: Something that struck me is the Whoredom symbol, with the two axes, the fire in the middle and then the triangle, what does it mean?
Zenon: That’s part personal and part that I can’t remember it (laughs.) I made the symbol when I was really drunk! It was kind of “lets just put something between the logo and the artwork.” Of course, it has the axes and the spears which are symbols of war. The symbols inside of it are symbols of putrefaction and death. Cool stuff (laughs.) I did this many years ago, but like anything else in music, you can find and give it any meaning you want. In the end it’s just something that came from inside but not for any particular reason.
Bulldozer: You of course, are a Belgian national, how did you come to join a Spanish band in Valencia? it’s kind of interesting! (laughs)
Zenon: To be honest, I grew up in Catalonia. My parents are from Belgium but I was raised in Spain. About my heritage, yeah my culture is Belgian but I grew up here. I live here. So joining a band was the most natural thing. I listen to a lot of Belgian bands, Ancient Rites, and Ostrogoth etc etc. But I never experienced Belgian Metal, I never really lived there. I can’t really relate to it except for my heritage. The fact I ended up in Spanish band rather than Belgian one is because I live here, simple as that. I grew up with my hometown scene in Girona and the Barcelona scene but I never really became a part of another circle.
Bulldozer: Also I noticed that interestingly, with the exceptions of you and Julkarn (who was absent on the record,) most of the members are relatively new to recording Metal, how has it been like mixing the old blood with the new?
Zenon: You mean having senior people in the band and newbies, right?
Zenon: Well, we’ve learned a lot from Julkarn and his dealing. I myself have been in bands since I was a kid, since I was 16 or so but never with the level of accomplishment that Whoredom has seen. So I consider myself quite new too. I had a few other bands but never with the same airplay as Whoredom. Nefarial (couldn’t find a real name) also played in a few local bands before Whoredom. But in the end it’s ok. There are a lot of things that new blood and old blood do differently. For example, when Julkarn and I learned every song by rehearsing it to death and crushing it in the rehearsal room. While other younger members of the band tend to record and practice it in their home, then come to polish it up in the rehearsal room. Either way is fine and both have pros and cons, like anything else. It really doesn’t matter if the guy is young or old. Anyway, Julkarn is not only a great musician and a friend, but a source of knowledge. We turn to him a lot for the senior advice of “what to do in Metal” (laughs.)
Bulldozer: Do you feel that the mix of oldschool and maybe, newer tendencies contribute to the band’s sound?
Zenon: It’s kind of difficult to say. Some of the members in the band listen to a lot of Behemoth and this kind of stuff, but we listen a lot to some friends of yours (Alex is referring to the fact i’m a Polish national)! Voidhanger, Infernal War. A lot of Polish stuff, we also like stuff like Hail of Bullets. When we write stuff, there are no restrictions. We don’t come out and go “we’re going to write an oldschool Death Metal song.”We just come up with the riffs and if it’s ok to us, it’s ok to us. What I can guarantee you is that you won’t hear damn Deathcore riffing or Djent riffing on the record. We do incorporate newer bands with an oldschool style and it benefits our evolution. New flesh, old blood! But with that said, we don’t try to rehash anything. We don’t want to be some regressive band that only copies. One of the keys to writing great music is not putting any restrictions on yourself.
Bulldozer: What was the recording process like for this record? what’s it like being an upcoming band from Valencia? The Spanish scene, while consisting of many bands and having even a few breakout acts such as Avulsed, Angelus Apatrida and Wormed, is still rather small in the European sense of scale
Zenon Not really different from being an upcoming band from any other country except for the fact that the scene is smaller in Spain. Fewer gigs and fewer people attend the gigs. It’s just smaller. You get more airplay in country like Germany, Poland or Sweden but for us, of course, we came from this kind of country. It doesn’t bother us so much. It’ll be more difficult for us to grow large as a band coming from Spain than if we came from Germany, but that’s more power to us. If we make then that’ll be more impressive than if we were a bourgeois band from Berlin.Now a days, being a band from Spain, you have to pay big money for a chance to play live and go on the road. We will only do that if it’s wanted. If we have to stay in the Spanish scene forever, so be it.
Bulldozer: Would you say the Spanish scene is supportive? competitive?
Zenon: When you go play a gig, people are supportive, more so than say in Norway where people just stand around and yell between songs. There are some great bands and some great people in the Spanish scene but it’s still too small and divided. Everything moves in little groups, sects and often in ridiculous battles of ego between them. You find a lot of people who listen to some kind of Metal, be it Death or Thrash or whatever, who won’t go to a show because that particular band isn’t a part of their circle or isn’t a part of their niche. That one of the guys is an “asshole” or a “retard.” It all has this churlish attitude, for fucks sake, it’s just music, not a soap opera. Get over it. But overall if you see it from the outside, it’s a rather warm scene. Small but warm. We stay away from the aforementioned type of shit, especially because we’re not big enough to generate any kind of controversy or to engage in these stupid films. We stay out of it and try to be at our best, regardless of our crowd.
Bulldozer: So my friend, what are the plans regarding the debut or upcoming material?
Zenon: We are rehearsing new material of course, and when we finished our gigs with Deströyer 666 we already started rehearsing this material. As a matter of fact, the process of writing never stops. Every week and every month we come up with new riffs and ideas, so it’s not like we’re choosing a thing to do and go into writing. It’s just putting different ideas into practice. We write new songs with all the material we have already. We could have enough material for two albums if we wanted to record them, but that’s not the point. We are rehearsing the songs that feel right and putting the right ideas into practice. We don’t know yet if the next release will be an EP or an LP, but we are definitely looking to record something soon.
Bulldozer: What direction are you choosing to take with this one?
Zenon: Well, we never thought of that. We just write and whatever comes up, plays. The new tracks have a little bit more traditional Metal influences, a little bit more Death Metal influences but nothing that obscures the Black Metal. It’s pretty diverse, it’s in the same eclectic style we’ve started with the EP. We can’t tell really until we decide which tracks to record, and it also depends on the production sounds and techniques, but it doesn’t really bother us. As long as it’s dark and violent, it holds up.
Bulldozer: Is there anything you can say as far as themes? concepts?
Zenon: The lyrics that I already wrote for the new record follow the same destructive path of the first EP. Maybe more in a post apocalyptic way, not dystopian but after the disaster kind of way. The last one was more of a refection on the state of things, but the new one is aimed on a way to get out of the chaos. Kind of a Phoenix coming from the ashes. I haven’t really decided it yet though, it’ll come through naturally. I haven’t put that much thought into it, but many lyrics are written. But when we choose a concept for the album, the artwork, that stuff and we match it all together. The lyrics are as diverse the songwriting.
Bulldozer: Is there anything in the Immediate future? any shows? anything you’d like to announce?
Zenon: There are a couple of shows coming up for the beginning of next year. One in northern Spain, in the Basque country. Also there’ll be another show in Valencia sometimes soon, in the next 4 to 5 months. We don’t really have any big plans but we just keep doing our stuff, writing, rehearsing and if a gig comes up we hope to do it. We don’t really have tour plans yet. We all have our steady jobs and our families , we’re not rockstar band. Whatever comes in the end is fine by us. If we make it, that’s great but that’s not the point. The point is to enjoy what we do and play music for the sake of it. If there’s a gig then the point is to have a good time, drinking, playing and enjoying our band.
Bulldozer: Any last words?
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photo: Antonio Cano
Turkey is a country that is very interesting in Metal in a lot of ways. It is the only relatively (notice the italics? don’t hound me) liberal country in the Middle East except for Israel (which is rather quickly gaining that italics to the “liberal” adjective as well,) therefore it allows shows on a rather consistent basis. Meanwhile it also a place where a lot of cultures in history have collided, it was a trade hub for everyone from the Italians, the Ottomans, and the Arabs to the Slavs, Vikings and many, many others from as far flung as East Asia. In a way, Turkey is both a mix of cultures and a very dominant culture of its own, which piques the interest of Metalheads and non-Metalheads alike. But, as we all know, the first question for most Metalheads is, “so what’s the Metal from there like?” Apparently, fucking dark, brutal, and uncompromising. Istanbul based band Diabolizer are one of the first Turkish bands your truly has had the chance to listen to and they live up to their moniker. Heavy, uncompromising and absolutely dripping with old school malice. Interestingly, it doesn’t sound neither fully Euro or American Death Metal, it has this kind of dirtiness to it that I find really unique. So after i’ve listened to it, i’ve decided to contact the good folks in Diabolizer and see if we can get a sit down for Bulldozer Magazine. Sat down we have, and vocalist Ali “Abomination Demonseed” gave me the low down on the band’s first EP Apokalypse, their upcoming plans, their history, and what it’s like being a band from Turkey. Dikkat!
B- So, Diabolizer is a rather new band, what’s the story so far?
A- Our guitarist Mustafa and our drummer were already playing in Engulfed, another Kadıköy based band, and a killer one at that. Anyway, Mustafa started getting new ideas which were somewhat different then what Engulfed was aiming for. Therefore in 2012, they decided to form a new band to put into motion this new faster and brutal style. Back at that time I was going through difficult stages of personal hell. Aberrant was living close to where I was working, so most of the nights I’d go to his place instead of mine and we drank, listened to music and so on and so forth. I listened to the primitive demos of what were to become the current Diabolizer songs and I’ve made up my mind to handle the vocals, which I was luckily offered a couple of weeks later. There were some line-up changes along the way and now we’re now five-piece again. So far we have released a 2-song promo and our new EP Apokalypse, on which the songs on the former promo landed as bonus tracks.
B- Ok so I have a few questions regarding that. You said the vision is different, how is it different? what’s the vision like with Diabolizer?
A- If you listen to Engulfed, you’ll see it’s a tad bit different from what we are doing. They have a dirtier sound and slower sections that can be compared to say, Incantation. Diabolizer has a faster approach to music and the songs also possess a burning energy whereas Engulfed sounds more gloomy and feels like you’re being dragged through piles of rotten nails. I totally love both bands and can’t really say that one is superior to another though.
B- So, the first Diabolizer EP, Apokalypse, is out, how do you feel about it?
A- For me, it can always be better. If you’re 100% satisfied with everything, the urge to create new songs will die. But overall, things turned out pretty well. There’ are flaws in it of course, especially if you look at it from our perspectives, but most of them are acceptable.
B- How is Diabolizer different to the other bands you’ve been in before? how is it also different for you as a musician? Not just the vision but musically, in finality?
A- I’ve been involved in various bands so far and I can say that Diabolizer has the most professional approach to music out of all of them. Obviously, Mustafa is the mastermind behind most of the works and through his preparation fro things we can easily move on. As for myself, through my work for Diabolizer I’ve found new ways to make my vocals deeper and I also had to alter my lyric-writing a bit so it sounds different from everything I’ve done before. This is the most boundary-pushing band I’ve sung so far, not just for me but for everyone. This is not simple music, everybody in the band has to expand their limits to catch up with the intensity. It is perhaps the most boundary pushing work i’ve been involved in, technique-wise, stamina-wise, creativity-wise, you name it.
B- What are some of the lyrical themes on the record? how do they tie with the Apokalypse?
A-The lyrics emphasise on whatever one has to expect from a Death Metal band: death, torment, various levels of vice and madness, hell and bloodshed, written from a Satanic point of view.
B- As in a theistically Satanic point of view? are you guys actual true blue satanists?
A- I can’t say our lyrics are deeply involved in the occult. I love reading about it but I don’t see myself classified enough to write lyrics that way, but what the future brings we’ll see.
B- Who did you choose to produce this album? why him? and how was it working with him?
A- The guitars and bass were recorded at Mustafa’s place. The drums and the vocals were taken from recordingss at Jamsession studios, operated by a very close friend of mine. The mixing/mastering were handled by Ünsal Özata from Ankara. He’s pretty good at what he’s doing and Mustafa had previously worked with him on some Decaying Purity recordings so they know each other well. As for Ünsal, it was easy and cool working with him. Most of the products I’m featured in, including the 2012 promo were produced by Serhat Deniz, another great guy whom we’ve know for like 15 years. I wondered whether it’d be a different process working with another producer but everything went fine.
B- How would you say that Ünsal brought something different for the record? how do you think that it turned out differently than if you would’ve done this record with Serhat?
A- Honestly, I think we could get to a quality level similar to this one. Both guys have been easy to work with, with deep knowledge and fast-working skilled hands.
B- So you’re saying that it’s mostly the band’s vision for the sound rather than the actual mixer at hand?
A- Mustafa is a guy who knows what he wants and also how it’s done so it was almost pre-defined. The songs never sounded way different that how I’ve imagined they’d sound.
B- What are some of the band’s influences?
A- I don’t think we can specifically point to a few bands, we all try to delve deep into the underground, discover and follow as many bands as possible. We can’t just limit it to “x, y and z” so let’s just say we can be influenced by anything as long as it’s evil and crushing. Mainly Death Metal and Black Metal bands though. As for myself, I’ve always had a more Black Metal background (Malefic Order, Godslaying Hellblast, Sacrocurse demo), so lyrically I’m more influenced by Black Metal bands, hence the Satanic lyrics. When I was trying to develop this vocal style, at first I was trying to imitate Glen Benton, who in his heyday sounded really fucking twisted and evil. I’ve found my own way ever since though.
B- Onur from Decaying Purity did some solos on the record, while usually he’s a drummer in your other band, how did that come about?
A- Apart from being a pulverising drummer, Onur’s also a very skilled guitarist. Mustafa’s original plan was to keep him as a permanent member, but that didn’t happen due to reasons I can’t remember. But we still brought him in to play two solos on the Diabolizer EP. In my opinion, the solos he played, and especially the one on “Descend into Desolation,” were fucking killer. Actually, nobody but Mustafa and Onur had heard the solos until the day it got mixed, so I was really surprised in a positive way.
B- What do you feel you’ve learned from the EP going forward? How will it impact the trajectory of the band?
A-The songs on the promo and EP date back to the period of 2012-2014. We have three more unrecorded song from that time-frame. We’re planning to use them for an EP or a possible split and then we’ll move unto recording our first full-length. I’m sure as fuck that the album material will be more fierce and devastating. There’s no point in playing further if you can’t take things up another notch with each release anyway.
B- So in what direction would you say you’d want the album to go? what feel did the EP leave you with?
A- We’ll definitely have faster tracks and the compositions will be eerier and more confusing. The EP left us with great feelings, it took too long to record everything and the wait to hear the final outcome had become way too frustrating, so we were all relieved when things came to an end.
B- You of course chose to go with T.E.T, how did that come about? why did you choose them?
A- Actually, the mixing/mastering process ended in April 2015, but it took us about 6 months until we got a deal with Third Eye Temple. Everyone was talking to mutual contacts between us and labels, and Third Eye Temple were not in my radar since I had almost no connections in Poland. I think it was Mustafa who first contacted Piotr, and it took him just a couple of minutes to accept working with us. All hails to Piotr by the way, he’s been doing an excellent job, both aesthetically and promotion-wise.
B- Aesthetically? what do you mean, I thought Robert Von Ritter made the coverart?
A- Well, actually we had friend from Ankara again, Mert Aydın to draw a cover picture for us. But Piotr said that he had another idead for the cover art, and the outcome was pretty good.The original cover had a giant face of Satan on the cover as well, Piotr just told us to wait a couple of weeks and he came with the recent version.
B- So of course, being from Turkey, I imagine questions regarding what’s it like have to happen. What’s it like being a metal band in Turkey?
A- In Shitstanbul, most people don’t have home with garages, so almost no band has it’s own place to rehearse. So we have to pay (!!!) to rehearse in professional studios which make things financially harder. 95% of the local “metal scene” is a big fucking joke so almost every good-band keeps things underground, out of the reach of the majority. If you like cocksucking, stupid, shitty, loser bands like Anathema or Orphaned Land, you’ll live a happy life in Shitstanbul. If not, too bad, welcome to a life of less than 5 gigs a year.
B- Does the public ever give you any problems? or is it really a financial concern, like in any other small scene?
A- Financial problems will never go away (laughs.) As for the public, you can see people look at you with disgust almost everywhere you go, but actual problems seldom happen. That of course goes for bigger and more developed cities. In small towns you’ll most definitely receive a lot of shit if you have long hair or wear “offensive” clothing.Ironically enough, during the most severe shitstorms against metalheads, a central-left party were the leading part of the government coalition. Since 2002, the conservatives run the country, but we never got publicly shit on so far. funny, right?
B- And police in Turkey doesn’t give you shit right? even considering recent happenings?
A- The recent happenings were like “islamic group a” conspiring against “islamic group b”; so recent events hardly bother us these days. But if you don’t look like the “regular guy” you always carry a potential of being attacked by some idiotic cunts or be stopped and searched by the cops, that’s for sure.
B- So what’s next for Diabolizer?
A- Like I’ve said before, we’re working on 3 songs from the, let’s say “first ear”, and we want to use them on a split or a separate EP. We’ll start working on the full-length afterwards. In February 2017, Infernal War will be playing here with us supporting them. I’d love to play a few more local shows after that, for we intend to make a tour in the summer of 2017. A few more live gigs would be good, cos we’ve played live only once since 2014. Being on a stage, you have to back up the evil and crushing atmosphere of your music, and you can only “train” your skills at that at actual gigs. I, haven’t been on stage too mush in the last years so I wanna play live more, both to improve the devastating atmosphere on the stage and to the thrill of playing your shit live.
B- Any last words for our readers??
A-Thank you very much for your time and support. It was a pleasure for me, definitely way better than the countless “who are the members?” interviews nowadays. As for the supporters, 666 thanks for your contribution. Hope to play live and devastate stages across all countries soon!
B- Thank you Ali! hope we’ll hear more from Diabolizer soon!
Latest release- Apokalypse EP The lads latest EP is a monstrous 5 tracks EP entitled Apokalypse, that also contains the first two-song demo as a bonus. Apokalypse caught my eye for many reasons, the most glaring of which is its uncompromising and ruthless nature. It’s not overproduced, and that realness is what lends it its punch-to-the-face characteristic and down to earth grime. For lack of a better word, on top of the well written Death Metal, it’s very gritty . I recommend this for anyone who’s into bands like Vanhelgd, Sonne Adam, or 13th Hour, as well as more technical stuff that isn’t really the ultra scientific-Technical Death (i.e, Apokalypse is technical but it’s not “wank your guitar like a prosthetic penis” technical.)
Dying Stars in the Warsaw Skyline
To be perfectly candid, Morthus was the first band I had in mind when I began the Fresh Blood Programme. Keeping a steady eye on the Polish scene, a scene of high quality extreme Metal, makes it hard for me to really be excited about a debut before it’s out. Of course there are exceptions, and some animals in Animal Farm are more equal than others, but Morthus is perhaps one of the most equal i’ve heard in the last half a century. Hailing from the suburb of Warsaw, Warka, this group of youngsters have been one that I’ve kept my eye on since I’ve heard of their tour with the ubiquitously renowned Infernal War. While rather young, (hell, I think i’m probably older than almost everyone in the band, and yes, that does make me feel useless, thank you very much reader,) they manage to make music that is far beyond their years. Imagine the astral essence of Dissection, Watain and their ilk infused with the the blasphemous, churning Death Metal of bands like Morbid Angel and Immolation to be on the correct path. I had a chance to speak with vocalist and rhythm guitarist P as well as lead guitarist D. Cardinal. Results ensue.
P- P. Vocals and rhythm
D- D. Cardinal, guitars,Lead
B- So, Morthus is literally two days away from releasing the album, how do you guys feel about Over The Dying Stars?
P- Well, great! to be honest. We were waiting for release date since we exited the studio, which was in August. It was more than half a year ago, so it was a long wait for the grand premiere of the material! so we’re excited.
B- Why did it take so long? you said it was a long process, what happened?
P- We were waiting for the mixing and mastering, and all the artworks were in the works. The most important thing delaying release were definitely the mixes and masters. Because, firstly, we were considering a premiere in March.
D- Also all the dealings with the label and waiting for the whole official process of making CDs, physical formats and what not. You know it takes a while
B- What is the title describing? is it a place? is it an ambience? what does it mean?
P- Pfffft, it’s something between those things. First of all, it’s Over the Dying Stars. When we were thinking about the title of that album, D. Cardinal and I were sitting under the sky. I remember we were thinking for a while, 3 or 4 hours or more, smoking and drinking. We had no idea. There’s also a Demonaz album called Under The Dying Sun, which was the first thing that inspired the title. I had something like that in mind when I was looking at the sky. I closed my eyes and next I opened them, I imagined that all the stars among us were like an ocean to be fallen into. They’re not above you, but you’re above them! So it’s kind of a place where you can open your imagination, dream and create art. But it’s also kind of something more, a rebellion against what happens these days.
B- It’s kind of an escape you mean?
P- Pretty much. Also I can add, that suns (stars in other words) can be metaphors for gods, a lot of religions are based on solar system and cults of the sun.
B- What are some of the lyrical themes on the album?
P- I hate questions like that! What do you say about your lyrics and things like that. I think the lyrics are not written to be explained. That what you were feeling while you were writing them is not to be explained. But to be interpreted. I write lyrics only for those people who get them. The lyrics are about what happens in our lives, and it’s metaphorically referencing these things. Our progress, our expectations regarding the world, and that’s all.
B- I guess that’s fair, that way the lyrics are still ambiguous and vague, that people can interpret them on their own. Moving on, how was working on OTDS different than The Abyss? How do you feel the experience you had between the two has impacted the latter?
D- First of all, I think we’re a little bit older and a little bit more professional than what we were before. So, when we started recording the Abyss we didn’t know what we wanted to achieve. We didn’t have a vision of a sound, how did we want it to come across in physical form or anything like that. Also we knew nothing about studio work, now we have more expertise in this topic. You know this time we came to the studio, we knew what sound we have and what we want. We came to record and all the material came out sounding more refined
P- It was just an instinct what we did on The Abyss. It was instinct that worked well for us, but it wasn’t our vision I think.
B- How does it come across as a more realised vision? in what way?Musically how does it come across?
P- It’s actually much more raw. We recorded live instruments. There were no triggers, no samples, just our sound. Nothing made more beautiful by studio magic, you know? Not everyone but a lot of bands use tricks to make their music more beautiful. We say no, we’re making a raw sound. All procession is recorded live, no trigger. Vocals too. I am really proud of the vocals because it’s just me, I didn’t use something like Autotune or pitch correction, just little reverb.
B- Of course, the artwork was made by J. Yousif, who, hard as I tried to google I couldn’t find (which is impressive, as i’m not sure her/his identity is a secret but most people’s secret identity can usually be found on Google.) How did you come upon this J Yousif? and why did you choose him/her?
P- She is a wild witch. She’s a good friend of our band and I met her in 2012 maybe. Really I don’t remember but, importantly, she listens to exactly the same music I listen to. She’s also a great artist and a friend in our private lives. So our communication in the making of the artworks was very good. We only needed to call and talk, even 2 or 3 hours a day to describe and discuss all the details of this artwork.
D- Yeah she doesn’t exist (laughs.) But as P. said, she’s a friend of the band. Most importantly we had a very similar vision for the artwork. We had the same inspiration.
P- All the artworks were here vision of the lyrics. All artworks are visualisations of the lyrics. Except for the main cover of course. That’s her vision. We just put a little bit of what we wanted to have happen in this art.
B- So if the main artwork isn’t a visualisation of the lyrics, then what is happening in it?
D- We don’t know (laughs.) Well you know it’s Over the Dying Stars. There are stars which are dying, an apocalypse, everything is exploding. The universe going to shit. It’s a mixture of kind of a cryptic Medieval age style and the apocalypse, the final judgement. Mixed with a cosmic vision of the end, exploding stars, and in my opinion, it comes across a great mixture.
P- First of all, it’s a liberal visualisation of the lyrics and main title. So yeah. It’s the world going to an end. Also it’s a little bit connected with medieval triptychs, showing the damned and the saved on both sides, with the saviour between them.
B- I think the inspirations on this record should be interesting, as it somewhat sounds like say Sonne Adam/Maveth meets Dissection/Watain for me on a lot of level. Very dirty Death/Black meets these kind of organic melodies. What are some of the influences on this record? have they varied at all since the early days of the band?
D- The inspirations are the same. It’s not like we started listening to Nü Metal or what not. Inspirations are more or less the same, of course we’re discovering new bands and new stuff. For example, I found out about Tribulation two years ago, who I try to take inspiration from. That’s somewhere in the album. The main inspirations like Bathory and Dissection are still the same (P screams in the background “Morbid Angel! Fucking Morbid Angel!”) Each person in the band has a little bit different inspirations but it’s still in the same spirit.
B- We mentioned that some of the non-musical influences are stuff like your personal lives and stuff like that. Yet I feel that I should still give space to elaborate, what are some of the non-musical influences on the band? would you like to add anything?
P- To be honest, I like nature. I like walking around Poland’s forests and inspirations like that. Nature and dead nature. Old buildings and old architecture. Places i’m going to. I also picked up a love of reading books recently. I’m reading much more than before. It’s a good inspiration for when i’m working on our music.
D- In my opinion one of the most influential themes in our music is emotions. It sounds a bit cliche but it’s very important to me and to us. For example when i’m very angry and I don’t know what to do with myself, I start playing guitar and I feel better. If I have a good day and everything is fine it’s very hard to create something in this kind of music. The main thing for me is the emotions.
B- Digging back, Morthus formed in 2012, tell us a bit about the story so far
D- There aren’t many stories, we’re a very young band. We have a few short stories, mainly about spending a lot of time in the studio. We have a great time but it’s not really a tale full of adventures. Like “we were on the tour in 1983”, we don’t have many stories, we’re a young band!
B- Ok but you guys know each other from where? how did it come about?
D- Our drummer and bassist know each other. They live in the same town and have known each other for a long time. They’re two Metalheads, and there aren’t many Metalheads where they live , even less so of their style. Usually some Metalcore pussies. So they know each other and I think that P knows our drummer from before as well.
P- I met him in a Slayer concert.
D- And I knew P from before. We didn’t all know each other before but as we started playing we found out that we had a lot in common. That’s it more or less. We were really close to each other. From Warsaw and the suburb areas. We were close and therefore there was better communication, that’s why I think we started playing together.
P- 2 years ago or more we didn’t even have a place to have rehearsals. We had rehearsals in our own homes, in school and in recreation centres. They have events there every once in a while, so they let us play there sometimes. And I can add that some stories connected with band are too private to be told. Maybe in the future, but you can imagine that they mostly involve excesses of youth, everyone needs to live it up.
B- Thematically harkening back to the second question, why the name Morthus?
P- We didn’t have a name and it was a hard decision, we didn’t have an idea of what to do. We were looking for a good sounding word. We looked into a latin dictionary and we found the word Mortuus, which means dead. We chose it and change one of the letters, added an H. We don’t really know why but it sounds good! It’s short, one word, and it’s easy to remember. It’s connected with death, we play Death Metal, so it’s very back to the roots.
B- While there are only really 4 short years between now and the formation of Morthus, one could pretty easily argue that the Polish Metal scene became considerably more popular in this timeline. Be it Behemoth publishing The Satanist and becoming arguably the biggest DM band in both Europe and the US, Mgła basically becoming underground Black Metal’s sweetheart, or Decapitated touring the US like Lindsey Lohan used to tour mirrors for cocaine, the jump in size is quasi undeniable. Have you felt a change? have you felt a noticeable difference? Do you see more international people taking interest in the Polish scene?
P- Yeah, I think. Certainly. We have good Death Metal, and the Polish scene has become kind of a seal of a quality. If you see a Death or Black Metal band from Poland , you know that it’s good as most of the bands from here are on a good level. Not always excellent but on a good level of that music. I think it’s taken from our location. I don’t know what your imagination is regarding Poland (I neglected to mention to P that I visit Poland almost every 3-4 years, was born there and have family there-Benek.) How life looks like here, in this area of Europe. But everyone just thinks it’s very cold in Poland. When I met Trey Azagtgoth, and all his stories regarding Poland were that it’s some kind of cold land. To this I can add to that people here are very poor
D- If you compare Poland to the other countries in Europe, we’re a little bit of a poorer country. Logically, this is a great place for this kind of music to be created. It’s an important part of it becoming a Metal area. The best bands are usually created by poor guys who just want to play Metal. Not to make money or some shit. To make music for people, and for the creation of music to be about the music rather than about money. That’s what we have in Poland.
B- How do you think the Polish scene has changed? Both after the increase in size and since you guys were teenagers, do you think that the scene has seen a shift? Do you think it’s become more competitive, more Dog Eat Dog?
D- I don’t know, I think the Polish Metal scene has more solidarity. The bands usually support each other, the true Metal bands. They are also in connection with other people from other place. When the internet revolution came, it became much easier to promote abroad. This is the time when people from abroad can have a much easier time taking an interest in what we do.
P- People are sending our bands to their friends worldwide. That’s the spirit of making our scene more popular in the world.
B- What do you feel are some of the advantages and disadvantages to being a young band in Warsaw? is it a relatively important city to Polish Metal? is a barren wasteland? is the scene there supportive?
D- It’s hard to say which place in Poland is the capital for Metal or some shit like that. In every big town there are some great bands. There are many for example in the area of Katowice and Wrocław.
P- I think everyone in Poland hates Warsaw as Warsaw is the capital. Everyone are moving into the capital as there are a lot of opportunities and more happens here than in the other areas of Poland. So a lot of people who are away from Warsaw or from the area hate the people who are moving in there. They have done for a few hundred years now. We hate them as they hate us (laughs.) You can make more art in Warsaw and it’ll be accepted by more people here than in any other city in this country. But it’s not a rule, sometimes people hates each other in their own area too, you know, it’s competition. And also we can find friends from other cities and support them mutually.
D- Well obviously it is the Polish capital, and on top of that it’s closer to western Europe. It’s more liberal and on the negative side, also more hipster. Other places in Poland tend to be more conservative. Other places tend to hate Warsaw because of that too.
B- You guys of course, ended up going with Witching Hour Productions for this release, how do you feel about this partnership? how did it come about? why did you choose them?
P- It’s one of the biggest labels in Poland, it was kind of a no brainer. It’d be stupid to go with anyone else.
B- Speaking of productions (ba dum tish,) I heard that this record was produced in Mandagora, why did you go with said place?
P- Easy, we know Maciek, who is Mr Mandragora. He’s a good guy to work with, he has this specific kind of humour that we appreciate. We can talk a lot of shit around him and he’s a good sport. We can also drink and smoke in the studio. Sometimes he also did that with us (laughs.) I had a vision for recording vocals, I needed to be closed in a small place, maybe two meters or so and he created that place especially for me. It was dark inside and I could record all the vocal parts under optimal conditions.
D- It’s easy to communicate with him, he knows what he’s doing and he knows what we want. We just tell him to do whatever it is we want and he knows how to do it. He’s kind of a friend of the band as well. There’ll be a bit of delay but yeah…
B- so, you guys came off of a big tour with the peaceful guys in Infernal War and another big new band, Outre, what are some of your touring plans for the new future, anything interesting planned?
D- At this moment we have no bigger plans in the near future. We’re awaiting some prepositions after the release of the new record, but meanwhile we’re working on new material. Material for the next record. We’re waiting for more prepositions, especially from abroad. We want to try and promote ourselves abroad.
B- Aside from the record, do you have anything else coming out? a video?
P- Maybe a clip or something, but it’s not really a priority for us. First we want to close the things we’re currently working on.
Latest Release- Over the Dying Stars
Released in June by Witching Hour Production, the debut album by Morthus Over the Dying Stars is one of those debuts that you can see being the beginning of a Metal Archives Page. Strong from end to end with a sense of raw meticulousness that is hard to come by. It’s definitely influenced by a lot of other bands, but the bands own personality shines through as it’s own entity, and that’s why it gets my seal of approval. For those who read my other two Fresh Bloods, if Dim Aura is very Punkish and kind of strikingly aggressive, Armagh more along the lines of almost Rock n’ Roll-ish, then Morthus is more tactically and strategically put together. Finesse, I’d say.
Interview: Benek Astrachan
The Fading Auras of Mankind
The Israeli Black Metal scene, if you can call it that, is quite an odd beast to reckon with. Diverse as all hell and very small, almost every band you encounter sounds radically different than the last. Especially between any ones that have any kind of size or traction. You have all your usual variants of course, Dimmu clones, early first wave wannabes, and all of their ilk, but you also have a few bands that are actually very much unique and interesting as they sound markedly different than most Black Metal bands you’ll come across. One band that exemplifies this difference is Tel Aviv’s Dim Aura. A relatively young band, Dim Aura today is one of the very few Israeli underground bands that I really keep a constant eye on. Basically, imagine Carpathian Forest meet Shining musically, and then insert a healthy dose of Punk riffing an attitude. It’s no YAITW or Kvelertak, it’s still 100% Black Metal, but it’s Black Metal that is as much “Grim” and “Frostbitten” as it is in-your-face , violent and burning.
I sat down with vocalist H. for an update on where they are-
B- So, what’s the story of the band?
H- Well, basically, Ferum, Ofir, and E.F.F formed the band without me. It wasn’t Dim Aura at the time. They used to play in another band called Sitra Achra, which I don’t know if you’ve heard about. They disbanded for several reasons and ten to fifteen years later, they met up and decided to play again. Ferum called me, I knew him as we released a split together with my solo project Crux Infernum and his project, Infernal Nature. He asked if I wanted to join the band. I came to like, some kind of an audition, really more of a jam and it jelled. They gave me their instrumentals, to which I added lyrics and it worked well. I met E.F.F and Ofir that same night, we clicked, and that’s it. We just started playing together.
B- You mentioned your solo project, Crux Infernum, was the transition difficult? between being in a solo project and a band with other members, strong personalities and different people?
H- Not really as I didn’t understand anything about being in a band or playing in public. In our first rehearsal , I just came in and said “lets play!” without like, any effects on the vocals, no reverb or delay. I was just like, “volume up! lets play!” I didn’t understand the idea of playing live for people. Even if it’s just your bandmates. Before that I just used to record by myself, in my bed room, in front of my lap top. Screaming at a shitty PC microphone. I wasn’t really shy about it or anything, it wasn’t a difficult transition. I gave it my best and that’s that.
B- Was your lap top impressed? (both laugh) No but really, the interesting question here then is, you’ve very organically developed an onstage show, an approach to playing live, did they give you any guidance? Did you do your own thing? how do you approach playing live after 6 years?
H- Actually, that’s a good question. After we formed the band we thought about how we should look to the public. How should we look live? What should be our “thing,” that differs us from other bands? We noticed that now a days, a lot of Black Metal bands play Shoegaze, in the manner of live shows. Most of them just stand and act very “grim” and “occult.” “I’m going to play with my rope and that’s it.” We wanted to bring back the…not really hardcore but the raging, banging your fucking head approach to Black Metal. In rehearsals we used to headbang all the time so it just flowed naturally into our shows. To give hell and not just stand there looking cool, “oh we’re so fucking dark and stuff,” it’s still a Metal show and you should act the way the music sounds. If the riff is really headbang worthy then you should fucking headbang. We do what feels right.
B- Why the name “ Dim Aura?”
H- We came up with that name like a month after we formed the band I guess. Someone brought it up and it sounded right. It’s a Dim Aura as the Aura of every person is somewhat fading and nothing will be left eventually. Which harkens to the nihilistic themes in the lyrics.
B- The band of course, formed in Tel Aviv, in the somewhat exotic locale of Israel, do you feel that has effected the band in any which way?
H- I’m not sure as i’m not really in touch with guys from other bands, at least not very much. Most of my friends aren’t generally in bands so I can tell you from my own experience only. I’m not sure it’s really a thing , except for the relations with the Nazi scenes in Black Metal. For example, in our show in Finland, there were a bunch of Nazi bands there. Nazi salutes and Nazi stuff. People approaching us “you look like you’re from Israel!” I still remember there was this one time, this ultra drunk guy walked up to me and said something along the lines of “this guy looks like he’s from Israel” to someone who I was talking to. I was like “well, I am” and he got upset, visibly upset and defensive. I said “Do you have a problem with that?” , just to point out, I was also drunk, it’s not like i’m in the habit of getting into fights with Nazis in Finland. He said he does, and I asked if he wants to leave the festival area to “sort” said problem. He just went quiet and I realised he’s just an idiot, I asked him again, and he said no and asked me for a cigarette. Other than that, we don’t really get any kind of special or different treatment because of the fact were from Israel. Most of the reviews we get mention at the top we’re from Israel, but that’s where it generally ends.
B- What are some of the band you feel are under-appreciated in the Israeli Black Metal scene? that should get more exposure?
H- Well, Mortuus Umbra are really good, they’re worth checking out as they’re very different than most Black Metal bands people usually listen to. The first Azamoth record is very good too, but I think they’re split up. They’ve been back on and off for years. Like I said, i’m not very deeply connected to the scene or to people in bands so nothing really comes to mind. There are a bunch of very good Punk bands, there’s a better Punk than a Black Metal scene here. Speaking of Punk, one of the best Grindcore bands here is one called Hatealldaylong.
B- D.A seems to be once of the few Israeli bands we see that really do manage to get out of Israel, having preformed in Steelfest and a variety of other European shows. You could literally count the grand majority of Israeli bands that have toured just on your fingers, all of them if you include toes, why do you think that is? also, how did Dim Aura break out of that?
H- The amount of bands from Israel that tour is not very large. Orphaned Land is pretty big, Hammercult and Shredhead tour around, but the reason there aren’t many is because the fact that it’s very hard to tour from Israel! There aren’t any labels that can support you.For example, lets say you have a band in Europe, you put out a decent record, most probably you can manage to get signed to some arbitrary label and begin to tour all over Europe. By a tourbus or a car. Not flights. You see we cant just drive to Europe from Israel and flights are obviously way more expensive. Meanwhile in Israel, you start a band, you spend a shitload of money to release a demo, EP or debut. Then you have to plan a tour, and pay for that tour on top! From your own hard working money, no one else helps out. Most bands have to work and have other responsibilities outside the band. I’m guessing this stuff comes first before playing in some festival or tour abroad. For us it was just like that, we got the opportunity to play in Switzerland and in a few places abroad and we had to finance it ourselves. We weren’t signed and we didn’t have a manager or label or anything like that, and I guess you just have to be persistent. That’s what separates those who stick from those who fade.
B- So, it’s been 4 years since the Negation of Existence, how do you feel about this release?
H- For me, personally, our one point that could’ve been slightly improved was the sound.Though i’m not sure my bandmates would agree, I think we didn’t get the production as we wanted on the record, even though it was mixed by Tore Gunnar Stjerna from Necromorbus Studios in Sweden. It wasn’t big enough, for me. I’m really proud of it musically, but as I found out, the production can weaken the riffs and the music. For me, that was our only misstep. I mean, not a misstep as it’s a good album, but it could’ve been better.
B- What were some of the lessons learned when making the debut of the band? what aspects do you think you’’ll take with you to the future?
H- Basically, the entire recording process. It took way too long on the debut album. We recorded the drums somewhere and were deeply unhappy with the sound of the drums, so we had to re-record everything. It was a waste of money. The actual process of recording man, I mean, it was my first time recording a serious record and not in front of a PC. I didn’t know anything about anything.I was just screaming into the mic and was like what the fuck “I actually need to scream in front of the mic and not hold the shit out of it like I usually do” It was hard for me. But I learned that before going into recording, that you should practice in rehearsal using the same method,just screaming in front of it,leaving some space between yourself and the mic, that that will help you record more easily. I learned from my mistakes, and now I just know how to prepare for recordings in contrast to shows. I know how to cater my vocal performances to each event, etc
B- What’s the meaning of the title, Negation of Existence?
H- Fucking nihilism at it’s core! Fuck everything! The actual title came from our drummer, E.F.F. He watched that Kevin Smith movie, Dogma, and in some scene of the movie, the arch angel or some shit said “something something bla bla bla ,thus negating all existence.” He had kind of a eureka moment saying, wait, that sounds like a good title for an album! So he mentioned it in rehearsal and we concurred. It fits with every song on the album and with the general vibe of the band.
B- When you say nihilism what do you mean? Because when I read the Negation of Existence, at least what I get from it is an ending to existence. The opposite to existence. Is the opposite to existence nihilism or nothingness? Jesus I just mindfucked myself on this (both laugh)
H- Nihilism is a broad concept but for me, Nihilism is just “ I am here, I won’t be here anymore at some point, and anything most of us do won’t really effect anything else at any point.” I mean, I guess Nicola Tesla changed everything but most of us will probably not do anything with our lives that will change the course of the lives of our specie. Most of us will probably live, have a family, spend some time here, and die. In like a hundred years, no one will remember Benek or H or anybody else we know.
B- How do you feel that N.O.E is a development over the EP R.U.S.T? I’ve been trying to come up with some kind of funny meaning for the acronym but i’m not really pulling it off , maybe next time!
H- First of all, R.U.S.T is a song in the EP, Ritualistic Unholy Self Torment is what it stands for! (both laugh) R.U.S.T was written, musically, mostly before I even joined the band. They actually sent me the demo tapes from R.U.S.T for me to listen to their material before I joined the band. Then I joined the band, we wrote the fourth song on the EP , and that was it. Meanwhile, on N.O.E, it was really a four man effort. Everything on that record was the four of us, the riffs, the drums, and everything in between. It wasn’t like they just presented me with the songs. It was more of a dynamic effort to write and record that album. Just four guys spending a lot of hours in the rehearsal space and studio to make it happen.
B- You mentioned that the music on NOE is a democratic effort, and that every band member contributes, but what’s the working process like ? is it sometimes difficult to work without no clear leader or line to tow?
H- The working process is usually myself, Ferum, and Ofir coming into the the rehersal space with various riffs we’ve worked on at home. We just brainstorm around those riffs at that specific day and see what works. Sometimes it takes us an hour to complete a song and sometimes it takes us a month. It all depends on how the riffs jell together.Then our drummer lays his drum lines, and we ask him if we don’t like it to change it up, add a cymbal or maybe up the tempo, anything like that. Is it hard being in a democracy? yes, very much so. Till this day I remember a specific note on the NOE album that I wanted done differently, and the three of them voted me out! I still remember that specific note every time I listen to it, which is at least not very often, as I don’t like to jack myself off to it that much. It was a hard transition, as it used to be just me without anyone telling anyone what to try and etc. But in general it’s way better, as four minds are way superior to just one.
B- You also write the lyrics correct? what are some of the nonmusical things that inspire you? What do you draw on when writing lyrics for Dim Aura? Please don’t shake your glass and say Satan…
H- “shakes beer like Gaahl in Metal a Headbanger’s Journey” Satan! next question please! (both laugh.) Jokes aside, yes, I write most of the lyrics , though my other bandmates do pitch in and bring their own pieces in. To be honest, nothing really inspires me. I just sit down when I have free time, listen to the demoes, and just let the song take me to some mental place that will work with it lyrically. I just listen to the songs again and again to let the songs bring it out of me. Like I said in other interviews, we’re not a traditional Satanic Black Metal band. I don’t write about any Satanic themes or use any Satanic imagery as i’m not a Satanist. I just listen to the songs over and over, most of the time it comes after a few listens. The idea elucidates and becomes specific as time goes on. Obviously I don’t just write about fantasy murder and death, I try to put my personal experiences and writing style in there. Just so that it won’t be so boring. I don’t know if anyone reads lyrics anymore but I try to make the lyrics as deep and meaningful as I can.
B- I’m not going to delve into specifics considering privacy, but what general things in life do kind of slither into the lyrics? what things are in that spot which you write in?
H- It sounds really cliche and overused, really an answer in every interview i’ve read seen or head but everyone goes through shit in their lives I guess. Everyone. Everyone have a depressed and dark side that needs to get out and be shown. When I write lyrics I let that side be a bit more expressed.
B- What appeals to you about Black Metal and these genres of music as a form of expression and as a person?
H- I’m not sure actually as I discovered Black Metal as a teenager. It was either Darkthrone or Dark Funeral, and I just heard it, it clicked in my head that this is the genre that sounds and speaks the way I want Metal Music to sound. The message it has to convey to the listener. Everything I wrote from that point automatically transpired a bit more to darker and more serious notes rather than just cutting yourself and dying, Emo shit. It just got to basically being a genre that felt like a lot of what was in my head and mind, it just clicked I guess.
B- The music also, at least to me, definitely has a strong Punky vibe, do you also feel this way? It has this bumpiness to it. I can definitely hear a bit of the Shining and more depressive influences but also a lot of very Punk influences. That to me, also correlate with the live shows and attitude. Do you concur?
H- Yeah, definitely. Mostly because our bass player, Ofir, and I really like Punk. Though we like different kinds of Punk, as he doesn’t like G.G Allin nearly as much as I do…G.G Allin is the fucking king as far as i’m concerned! So us two are really influenced by Punk, but for example, Ferum, our guitarist, is entirely not. He mostly listens to just Black Metal. Meanwhile our drummer, E.F.F, is possibly the most varied musically between us all. He listens to regular Israeli music, Punk, Black Metal,Death Metal and everything in between. He brings his stuff to the table, Ferum brings his stuff to the table as well and the both of Ofir and I bring our Punky-Thrashy type riffs into the mix. There’s definitely a lot of Punk influences, and live it felt right for us to be aggressive. To act, not really like a Punk band but not a typical Black Metal band onstage.
B- Of course, the artwork was made by Sonnelion of Blaze of Perdition, how did that come about? how does the artwork tie in with the lyrics ?
H- We emailed him, and he was like “alright fine, send me some lyrics from the album.” So we sent him all the lyrics, which I don’t know if that’s what he asked for but whatever. Then he sent us the first version of the cover which was different. B.O.P got into the famous bus accident around that time, and he went into a coma or something. He was injured badly. So we were like, alright, fuck, what do we do? So I contacted a good American friend of mine from the US, Joseph Condejas, a really good visual artist. I asked him if he could complete the artwork Sonnellion sent us, to which he agreed. That was it, he did a very good job with it. So Sonnellion basically did the artwork from the lyrics we sent him and Joseph made it possible to print. As far as lyrical relations, I believe that the lyric that caught him was that of the second song, The Golden Tombs. Seeing as, bluntly, the album cover has a bunch of tombs. It’s completely me saying that, so i’m not sure, but I believe that that’s the song that inspired him specifically.
B- What’s in the future? Ferum mentioned something about an EP?
H- We decided to release an EP or something of the sort, it’s not a full length album. It’ll probably consist of 2-3 songs that will be recorded live. Not like a “live record,” but the recording technique will be to play live in a room. It’ll probably be released on vinyl. Not sure yet. We also have 12 songs ready for the second full length, but we decided that after a while of being absent that it’d be better for us to come back with a smaller offering and then a full length. I believe that the second full length is well on it’s way to being ready, about 85% ready as a matter of fact, circa 11 or 12 songs.
B- So why did you decide that you wanted to come back with an EP? why do you feel that it’s important to come back with the EP first?
H- Because after the release of the NOE album we played a good few shows live and went into a “hiatus” of writing this new album, which took a while. it took a while seeing as we wanted to perfect it. Naturally it took a while for us, and we just decided that releasing a shorter taste of what’s to come will be easier for a listener to get into rather than throwing out a fucking 12 new songs mammoth. We just thought that it’d be easier to first get into 2-3 songs to grasp the idea of the more developed Dim Aura. It’d be much more listenable I guess, than a full new album after a few years with nothing new.
B- Is there anything concrete about this EP? the themes, any information you can share so far? What direction is it taking from the point you left off?
H- Most of the lyrics I wrote again, so I believe it’ll stay on the same line as most of our material. A personal and un-glorified approach to lyrics. No fantasy and demon themes, more grounded lyrics about individuals and their things. The music got way more professional and way tighter as far as i’m concerned. We added a second guitar role on some of the songs which we didn’t have on the previous releases. Like a second guitar line which adds more depth to the sound and to the music in general. It sounds to me like a more complete Dim Aura experience.
Dim Aura’s Negation of Existence is a Punky, Black Metal record that hits hard from several different angles. With that said, while it is diverse, it doesn’t feel spread thin whatsoever. The band puts into practices everything from Shining to Aura Noir and makes it work all together. The way the whole record comes together is interesting in and of itself, and definitely leaves a taste for the coming-soon more.
Interview: Benek Astrachan
Photos: Elad Levy
Surfing The First Wave
Poland’s Armagh are kind of a rarity when it comes to young bands. On the one hand, they come from what is now a very quickly developing Metal scene, with many bands to emulate and many preordained paths to follow. On the other, they don’t really sound 1:1 like any pre-existing bands. They, to paraphrase Phil Anselmo’s quote about how bands ought to apply inspirations, really took in a wide variety of inspirations and made something of their own. They really perpetrate the kind of ragtag wild and entirely analog spirit that bands like Slayer and Entombed embodied in their early days. It’s not about ultra professionalism, it’s not about some super slick and perfectionist attitude that tweaks every note and sound on Pro-Tools. This is raw, this is 100 people stuck into a sweaty basement with shitty amps and a violent atmosphere, this is touring the country in a mini van with beers under the seats and this, this wouldn’t be out of place in the 80’s this band so looks up to. To tell us more about Armagh, their music and their early journeys, is singer/main composer, Galin Soulreaper.
Divine Eve has been one of those elusive obscure bands that has in it’s fragmented existence conjured some of the best doom laden death metal with every recording. Here we catch up with Michael Sleavin (Rhythm guitar/vocals) and Matt Killen (Drums). Discussed is the bands principles and ideals as well as their past, present and future endeavors.
Carlos Gonzales of the revived Los Angeles Muerte Grind outfit Demolition answers a few questions for Bulldozer Mag. We get a insight into the early 90’s Los Angeles scene and answer to what happened to the band, their disappearance and their resurrection. We also dig into the new recording and what lays ahead for Demolition.
Von has an album due to arrive on October 31st, 2012 entitled “Satanic Blood.” Venien regards this as Von’s first “official” full length album. In most cases, this is the recording we are talking about here, not to be confused with early demos entitled “Satanic Blood.” Also, “Dark gods” is an upcoming 3 part trilogy of NEW Von Material which is not yet out, but much of which is recorded and/or written already. So when Venien speaks of “Dark gods” recordings in “past tense” this is why. But this material has not been released as of today, 10.20.12.