Funeral doom? It is just not enough to play slow, you gotta play ultra slow too. Where will it end? Not that I mind though. German OPHIS is a fine example of how to do it well. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
I have to say that I knew nothing about OPHIS before. What have you to say to all those of us not familiar with you guys?
-I don’t want to convince anyone with words, only with music. To those who never heard us before (shame on you by the way, haha) I’d say, if you have a passion for slow maelstrom-like music that expresses depression and hatred all together, give OPHIS a try. We never cared much for image, attitude, hipness or commercial success, just for honest musical bleakness from within ourselves. If you find that interesting, give it a spin. If you can not stand slow, ugly, minimalistic, heavy music or if you need your Doom Metal to be colourful and marijuana-driven, then don’t bother. In that case, OPHIS won’t work for you.
You have released a couple of albums and a MCD before this re-release package that is “Effigies Of Desolation” package. What kind of following have you built on those records?
-The MCD did originally not do that much. It put us on the scene for the first time and helped us to secure some gigs, which in turn helped to establish the band a little in Germany. Our kind of Doom Metal was on a complete low regarding popularity back then, and the distribution of the records was not the best. But there were some people who missed the good old Death / Doom Metal, and they were happy to find us, as almost no one else did that kind of music in Germany back then. When we released the “Stream of Misery” album in 2007, Doom was a little more popular, and we gathered some following among Doomheads. The album also helped us to play our first European tour, which gave us a solid standing. When we released “Withered Shades” in 2010, we finally established ourselves in the scene.
Why have you agreed to let Cyclone Empire rerelease these records? What do they mean to you today?
-Well, why shouldn’t we agree to the re-release? Both records were out of print, so it was very difficult for newer fans to buy them. And there was still a demand, so we agreed. We did not want to do a simple repressing, though. We wanted both records to be put together, as a sort of compilation, a retrospective on our early days. This is why we gave it an own name and artwork. Today, we are still happy with those old records, but of course there are some things we do differently now. Especially when it comes to production-terms. But they are like old photos, and they still mean a lot to us.
What is funeral doom really to you? How would you define the sound of a funeral doom band and how does it differ from traditional doom?
-Let me put first, that I don’t think OPHIS plays Funeral Doom. Especially not on those old records (our newer stuff is a bit closer to Funeral Doom, but still not completely). Of course, it is all a matter of perspective, but we label our music simply Death-Doom Metal. Funeral Doom is very elegic, hymnic, almost lethargic and well.. funeral-like. There are only a few bands which I would really call Funeral Doom: SKEPTICISM, THERGOTHON, WORMPHLEGM, SHAPE OF DESPAIR and a few more… there is no aggression left in Funeral Doom, there is only apathy and despair. OPHIS has apathy and despair as well, but we also have some rather aggressive aspects in the music, I think. This is just my personal view, of course when you see it differently, I wouldn’t call you wrong.
With this rerelease is that to be seen as a new start for the band or should we consider it an epitaph of a band that is no more?
-No, none of that. As I said, it is just some retrospective. After 12 years, a band can do that, I think. It is not a new start, because we just keep going on since the beginning. And it is not an epitaph, we are writing for our next album currently!
If you look back at the band from the time you started to where you are at now how would you like to describe that journey?
-Long, difficult, but extremely rewarding. For every bit of success we ever had, we had to work very hard. But I don’t mean this bitterly or like “look how tough we are, we’re martyrs”. It makes me glad that it was hard work, because bands that have it easy lose their original goal very often. And it made the whole thing interesting. We had some very great times on tour and in the studio, and also some very bad ones. That made me appreciate the good ones much more, and so there was always a motivation to keep going and getting better (hopefully).
Have you as a band developed an aesthetic that is uniquely yours? How have you developed a sound that is all yours? What influences have been the most important to you guys?
-I try not to think too much about our influences, because if you do that too much, they become obvious and reflected, and therefor lose their natural aspect. We get inspiration from many different bands and artists from both Doom and Death Metal, especially from the old-school section and the early 90s.
As far as our distinct sound goes, of course we try to develop a certain feeling that is typically OPHIS. I think over the years I developed some certain style in creating melodies, some sort of handwriting.
If we succeeded in this, it is up to the listeners to decide. Concerning the sound, we do not use modern, ultra-expensive equipment. And also no even more expensive retro-equipment, we just use middle class gear that we adjust properly to get a sound that is raw but still clear.
When you play as slow as you guys do what part does lyrics play? How do you fit them in?
-The lyrics are quite important. Of course, the music comes first, but I consider the lyrics as the chance to express yourself with an additional dimension than with just music, and I see them as a chance to enhance the atmosphere of the music even more. So I always try to use this chance and work hard on my lyrics. We work on the music first. While we do, I make some notes and collect some ideas, you know, single lines or metaphors I want to use. But the final lyrics are written after the song is finished, so I can adjust them to the atmosphere of the song and get the vocal arrangement right.
With funeral doom come death. How important has the look of the band been? How important has art work and promo shoots been to look the right way?
-Well, this is indeed an important aspect, but I have to admit that I never had much talent in optical styles and never a good sense for art. That’s why we usually let some proper artist do that work. But we care about having artworks who do not look like everything else. You know, all those photoshop collages who are all in the same style. I am pretty sick of those. Our music is raw and bleak. And we want that reflected in the artworks. So they tend to be a bit minimalistic too.
Is there a future?
-A future for you: I hope so.
A future for OPHIS: I think so.
A future for mankind: I doubt it.