I remember this band from back in my mind as being pretty cool. So when I discovered that they had a pretty recent album to promote I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
-Well, we do not really think about that. The most challenging thing is, in my opinion, to be a better self; finding a better way to express ourselves. In other words, with every album we try to reinvent ourselves. I believe our albums reflect our state of mind for that particular period of time. I believe we never set some genre borders for our music and there’s a wide territory we have at our disposal and where we fell comfortable in. With our latest album “As Nations Fall”, there’s many soundscapes present, be it brutal blast beats or atmospheric acoustic passages. I see it as our strength as it lets us explore this huge playground. Basically, after “New Formed Revelations” we tried to streamline our music a bit, make it more straightforward, as too much complexity seemed to hurt us live. The result is still a highly intricate musicianship, but more fluid and cohesive.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
-The artwork was for “As Nations Fall” was done by Gustavo Sazes, who worked on our previous album. So yes, it is a continuous collaboration. The idea is to create a band theme that is going to be recognizable. We suffered from that back in the “demo” days. But finally the visual aspect of the band is getting established and we feel it is going in the right direction. Surely, I think we accomplished the task to link the artwork to the main lyrical theme of “As Nations Fall”.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know that you have the right lyrics?
-It all depends on specific songs. For “New Formed Revelations”, I was writing the lyrics and music together and it has a certain vibe where there is a strong connection between riffs and lyrics. For “As Nations Fall” we wanted to try something new. No lyrics were written before all the music was written first. This approach turned out to be good, as it was way easier to write music and in the end I felt no pressure with lyrics changing due to music changes etc. I personally like to write lyrics when I’m alone and able to get into a certain mood and just let my mind do the job. After inspiration comes in, the words just flow and the song basically writes itself. Maybe there’s a few corrections in the recording process just to make it sound better but that’s it.
How hard is it to find the right art work? What are you looking for?
-This is a real pain. After you write your music, get everything done, sometimes you’re too burnt out from this process to have a clear vision what the final art work should look like. Even though I had this rough vision of the artwork for “As Nations Fall”, I sent the music to Gustavo and told him I had no idea. To my surprise, he came back with basically the same concept I envisioned. The moment I saw the art work I was convinced. I think he’s very proud of the final result too, as he stated it’s one of his favorite artworks he did in recent years.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpreted because of the metal you play?
-We don’t really care about that. I know we’re not an easy band to get into. We have this “black metal” legacy connected with our name and “Croatia and Balkans” associations. But those are long gone, at least form our perspective. We released “New Formed Revelations” in 2012 through Massacre Records, which marked a new beginning for us, and we never looked back. We’re slowly getting accepted, but this transition only makes us push this thing even further. So I makes us work hard, which is a good thing. Recently, one guy told me he came to a show without previous knowledge of the band and expecting nothing, but was blown away by our performance. Ended up as a huge fan.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally?
-Well, being a band from Croatia, with all our history, from our perspective we accomplished miracles. Nationally, metal is not huge, Croatia is a small country and only going internationally makes it worth doing it. I think we’re doing the right things, we played some super cool festivals like Bloodstock Open Air (UK), Power, Prog & Metal Fest (BEL), Trondheim Metalfest (NO), Metaldays (SLO) and Brutal Assault (CZ). We toured Japan with Rotting Christ and recently got back from our first European tour with Suffocation and Cattle Decapitation.
“As Nations Fall” got some very good reviews and we’re thankful to the fans and people who got to hear what we had to offer and appreciate our music. We have a great relationship with our label Massacre Records and our Alpha Omega Management booking agency and we’re looking forward to confirmed summer festivals such as Metalhead Meeting (RO), Gothoom Festival (SK), and banging this years Metaldays (SLO) main stage.
Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats?
-I’m not really sure. It seems the CD era is coming to an end and digital platforms are overtaking it. Maybe, CDs will be a collector thing in the future, I don’t know. I think it’s cool for the fans to buy CDs at concerts and get their CDs signed, enjoy the artwork and the whole package, but maybe it’s just me. It’s what I did. Get to a show, and wait for a few hours to get to my heroes and get myself a photo and my CD signed. There is a different pattern in consuming content which is on a physical medium that is so pronounced in the metal music, that it’s hard to envision a future without it. Maybe the whole concept of an “album” is obsolete. I miss those days where you would actually go to a record store and sometimes buy an album not knowing anything about the band or music. Those were the days where record labels were the editorial for the masses. And I think those were not bad days at all; a lot of awesome classic albums are still fresh and relevant to this day.
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
-Well, it’s not easy to tour. It’s always this balance sheet that waits in the end, where you have to sum it all up and see where you are financially. There is a need to cut costs and sometimes quality suffers, for sure. As I said before, we just came back from our European tour “The Tyrants of Death Metal” which featured Suffocation, Cattle Decapitation, Abiotic, Exuviated and us. I can say that it was my most successful tour. Everything worked perfectly, everybody was super cool and friendly and it was a pleasure to be on this tour. Enjoyed every moment. I think the whole concept is a really good: you get two very well established bands and three up and coming and emerging bands. From the reactions of fans, it was a positive thing, as many fans discovered us and really liked us. Also, the whole tour production is really professional and experienced, so you get the opportunity to present your band in an appropriate way.
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
-I think we’re pretty comfortable with any situation, as we experienced all of them. My main concern is to get in the right mood and transfer our music to the audience. Many people still never heard about us, and I feel our music is our strongest asset, so that’s it. I feel we do not need some tricks to get attention. In the end, if our music does not speak for itself, then why bother. We grew up with bands like Death, Carcass etc. They didn’t use tricks, they used their music.
What does the future hold?
-We see that there is a certain progress with the band. Speaking with my friends from very big and respectful metal bands, they assure me we’re doing the right thing and we intend to push forward the band as long as we have time and will to go on. The passion for metal music is our driver and as long as we feel honest about it, we’ll go on. There’s confirmed and still to be confirmed summer festivals approaching. There’s talks about the second European tour in September 2016. We’d like to go back to Japan and Asia too. There’s many ideas for new music in our head and I think we’ll start writing very very soon. And in the end, there’s a new army of fans waiting for us to get back on the road and rip it. I look forward to that.