Monday 28 November 2011

KRISIUN – Combusting Execution

Brotherhood of blood, metal and an uncompromising attitude is what defines Brazilian extremists Krisiun. The Sao Paulo-based trio, which has continued its crusade of brutality and terror for over twenty years, has just produced its eighth full-length "The Great Execution" for Century Media. After two straight up death metal records, "AssassiNation" (2006) and "Southern Storm" (2008), the band delivered much more diverse material with mid-tempos, loads of groovy riffing and developed arrangements. Krisiun's drummer Max Kolesne talked to We Wither about the course of its creation, his home country and first steps behind the drum kit.

What is the difference between "The Great Execution" and the previous album, 2008's "Southern Storm"?
We wanted to do something different on the new album and didn't want to repeat the same old formula once again. We added some variations to our style. Playing fast songs is in our blood and it's still present on "The Great Execution", but this time we tried some new tempos and rhythms. I think you can hear the influence of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Mercyful Fate.

The new album is your most progressive record to date with no track clocking under five minutes. Did you plan to do such a complex record or did it simply come out that way in the process?
It's definitely our best recording session to date. We naturally wrote really long songs but we didn't plan it, they just came out like that. We jammed and shared the ideas for the new material and for some reason we wrote longer tracks than before. They are catchier than our old stuff but Krisiun remains the same death metal band.

Was the new album fun to write?
Very much! We have the right chemistry in the band. We understand each other very well. I'm sure this is the best time for us so far. We feel really comfortable with what we do at the moment. Writing and recording "The Great Execution" was a lot of fun. It was a natural process. With no compromise. We used a bunch of analog equipment in the studio, that's why it sounds natural. The important thing for us is that we didn't overproduce this material.

You often emphasize your dedication to the underground. You’ve been active for more than twenty years and stayed there for the whole time. Do you feel comfortable with where you are?
Our music is underground and we are a 100% death metal band with underground roots, so definitely yes. That doesn't mean we don't change our style a bit from time to time. I hope what we do can attract more and more people to the underground scene. Every time we tour we meet new fans and that means the underground is the place for us.

What does working with Andy Classen give you? Is he the kind of producer who is almost a band member or rather an advisor?
First I have to say we're a very easy band to work with. When we enter the studio the material is heavily rehearsed and prepared. We don't fuck around and don't waste time. We actually produce the music ourselves but we need a guy like Andy who gets the best possible performance from us. He pushes us to the limits and always delivers the sound we’re looking for. We don't spend ages in the studio. With "The Great Execution" it took us four weeks with a break for a short European tour.

Everybody knows Sepultura and Sarcofago, lots of people have heard of Krisiun, Rebaelliun and Mental Horror but there are not many bands from Brazil that are popular globally. Is the metal scene in Brazil strong at the moment? Do a lot of people come to metal shows?
The Brazilian metal scene is very strong and huge. There are tons of people at shows. It seems that Brazilian people love metal a lot. I think there aren't that many well-known bands from Brazil because it's really hard for local bands to break through. I'd say it's easier for bands in the US or Europe. Apart from the bands you mentioned I'd also add Torture Squad and Claustrofobia. Both bands are around for about twenty years and they are worth of checking out if you don't know them yet.

Rio Grande do Sul, the province of Brazil you come from, is the southernmost region of your country. Is the south of Brazil an easy place to grow up and live?
Actually it's a very good place to grow up. I had a happy and decent childhood, I totally enjoyed it. The good thing about growing up in the provinces is that you're close to nature. We used to spend time at the river or playing football most of the days. In big cities like Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro the pollution is horrific, there's a lot of crime and it has to be tough for kids to grow up in such circumstances.

The stereotype is that music and football are the only options to make a career and a good living in Brazil. Would you say there is a bit of truth in it?
Not at all, it's not true. You can be whoever or do whatever you want in Brazil. It's only up to you and how determined you are. If you're a professional and have certain skills you can be as successful here as anywhere in the world.

Brazil is the fifth most populated and the fifth biggest country in the world. What are the advantages and the disadvantages of living there?
Sao Paulo where we live at the moment is a huge city and the great thing about it is it gives you a lot of opportunities to do whatever you like at anytime you want. There are always shops and clubs open. A lot of things happen in Sao Paulo so it's a good place to hang around. There is a great cultural diversity and the food is awesome. The worst thing about living here is the terrible traffic. You literally waste hours of your time to just travel within the city. There are far too many cars here.
I remember your gig at Metalmania 2004 in Poland, when you recorded your DVD "Live Armageddon", as one of the most crushing shows ever. When you started the band was your goal to become the most brutal and punishing band in the world?
We were young, really pissed off and full of hate. We wanted to play radical music full of brutality pushed to the limits. On our first EP "Unmerciful Order" and the debut album "Black Force Domain" in 94-95 we simply wanted to just destroy everything with our music not as much to compete with other bands. That DVD is absolutely a good representation of what Krisiun and our live shows are. We always play intense and straight in your face gigs.

Drummers have always been my favourite metal musicians. How did you start?

Alex who is the oldest among of us used to be in a band before Krisiun and before he started singing and playing bass guitar he was a drummer. I never thought I could be a drummer one day but I really loved the rhythms of AC/DC songs etc. Moyses, who now plays guitar for Krisiun, told Alex to show me some simple techniques and that's how I started. I didn't have a drum kit so I practiced on the furniture or pieces of wood. I was about 13-years-old. I was only able to repeat some basic easy beats. There was no chance I could even try to play Iron Maiden. I was asking older guys for advice how to play. And then when I listened to early Metallica and heard the double-kick it just completely changed my drumming style. I went crazy for that intensity.

fot. Łukasz Popławski
What is your favourite metal record drumming-wise?
It's easier for me to point to three records that are a perfect representation of what my influences are. They’re "South of Heaven" by Slayer, "Covenant" by Morbid Angel and "Darkness Descends" by Dark Angel.

Krisiun is a true band of brothers. Would you ever consider continuing to play if one of you left the band?
It's hard to say what will happen in the future. It depends on the situation. Probably if we fought against each other we would rather kill the band than continue with somebody else. If one of us preferred to slow down a bit and retire from Krisiun we would probably give it a thought to recruit a new member. But that's only one of many possibilities. On the other hand I can't imagine how Morbid Angel could record an album without Pete Sandoval. His style is an undisputed part of the band's sound and without him it's not the same.

Saturday 12 November 2011

VALLENFYRE - Cryptic Vibe

The new project of Paradise Lost main composer and guitarist Greg Mackintosh may come to some people as a great shock. The man witnessed the loss of his father and turned the devastating experience into fuel for his grim obscure death metal monster Vallenfyre. Greg recruited some notable musicians such as drummer Adrian Erlandsson of At the Gates and Paradise Lost, guitarist Hamish Glencross of My Dying Bride, bass renegade Scoot of crust punks Doom and guitarist Mully, Greg's close friend. Released at the end of October 2011 Vallenfyre's debut "A Fragile King" offers a tribute to the old school sound of harsh and raw uncompromising beating. Songs such as "All Will Suffer", "Ravenous Whore" and "Humanity Wept" are just what death metal was originally all about. Greg talked to We Wither about how the record came to life.

If not for the death of your father, would you ever have started Vallenfyre?

Probably not. Death of my father was the thing that made me do this record. It's been therapeutic to me in that sense. It gave the spark to creation of the music. About seventy percents of the lyrics are about my father's death and my grief. For last three or four years I have been listening to my favourite old death metal again and the idea was somewhere there but it wasn't channelled.

As far as I’m aware, it’s the first time a Paradise Lost member has teamed up with a My Dying Bride member. Both bands have been compared on numerous occasions in the past. How much did Hamish influence the shape of the band?
He didn't much but it's only because he joined the band when about seventy five percents of the record were already written. He definitely added his touch in the studio, he brought in some ideas for production and his playing style was important to the fact how the album sounds.

You have written all the music for “A Fragile King” but what did other guys bring in to the band?
The whole idea for Vallenfyre was to bring back and recreate that old school vibe that we have in a band because we are all been in the scene long enough and we come from the same background musically. Adrian is Swedish but he's been living in London for a decade now. That vibe and understanding are more important to us than anything else. We have this feel for how death metal should be and it's quite an opposite to how modern death metal bands sound, often overproduced.

Could you tell me more about the writing process? How long did it take you, what did you experience during that time?
It was happening in a couple of stages. The first one was just after my dad died. I started writing down my thoughts and feelings. These ideas turned to music later on. When you stay alone with such emotions they might become pretty self-destructive. I didn't really have anybody to talk about it. That's why I spoke to Hamish and the guys to join me in a band. I had a bad thing turned to a good positive thing at the end. I spent almost the whole 2010 writing the material and then we were in a studio between December 2010 and April 2011 with a few breaks for our other bands. I noticed one thing. When death metal bands speak about ripping people to pieces it's just fine but when you come up with the real experience of death suddenly people get frightened and don't know what to do with it.

It's quite easy to guess which old school death metal bands are your favourites but do you check out younger bands? Did anything released in the last decade get your attention?

I do listen to modern bands but not really to a lot of death metal. I prefer other forms of extreme metal, things between hardcore/punk and metal like Tyrant, Black Breath, Nails, Trap Them or Coffins. I somehow lost interest in death metal since nowadays it's usually too technical, too clean in production and actually with no soul.

Could any of the Vallenfyre songs fit on the early Paradise Lost records?

Possibly but only rather more doomy songs like "Seeds" or "The Grim Irony" since the majority of the album would be too aggressive.

You have written all the lyrics for Vallenfyre, while in Paradise Lost it's Nick Holmes who writes the most of them. Was writing these lyrics easy for you?
It was bit difficult I guess. I wanted to write them in an interesting way for the listener. I was looking for the cryptic feel and atmosphere. I had lots of inspiration and experiences of sadness and mourning and put them into words. Probably the first few lyrics that I wrote, which were "Desecration", "Seeds" and "The Divine Have Fled" became a fundament to what I wrote later on.

What are the chances for another Vallenfyre record?
It's too early to talk about it. I don't have such plans at the moment. I'm not looking so far into the future. It may happen later but I don't know. For the moment we some shows scheduled for next year. We as well released a video clip to "Cathedrals of Dread", which is a song about religion and how people are told what to do and are brought up in sheep mentality of the followers. It's got some aggressive feeling, it's dark and edgy.

Will what you do with Vallenfyre influence the next Paradise Lost record?
Not at all. Quite the opposite actually. I draw a fine line between what I'm doing with both bands. The new record, which we will be recording very soon is more melodic than our last album "Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us". It's going to be a blend between classic metal and gothic style with a lot of lead guitars but no keyboards. We are going for sort of retro production. We are working with Jens Bogren again and the record should be out around March 2012.

You have been playing heavy music for more that twenty years now. Did this lifestyle turn out to be the thing you always wanted and wished it to be?
Yes and no. When we started the band we didn't even expect to do a proper record or tour etc. What I like is that we always kept the things the way we wanted. Of course we witnessed some shitty music business stuff but overall I enjoy this lifestyle much more now than in the past. I keep myself busy all the time. I write music at home when we're off tour. Then we record and go on the road. It all happens in 2-3-years circles.
fot. by Daniel Gray
Where is Paradise Lost at the moment? After twelve albums and some ups and downs what is ahead of you?
I'm quite sure than our new record is as good as anything we released in the past. It's relevant to what's happening in the scene today and we still have a lot of fun writing and playing music. We feel creative and are eager to stay around for some time. At the moment we have a very good relation with our label Century Media. Those people understand where we come from and it works just great.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

AZARATH - God-crushing Hammer

While Behemoth took its compulsory year-long break due to the band leader's illness, the unstoppable drummer of the Polish blackened squadron, Zbigniew “Inferno” Prominski, used the opportunity to complete the fifth Azarath full-length. The group, which delivers raw, vulgar and violent death metal, produced their strongest offering to date. "Blasphemers' Maledictions", released by the Witching Hour in June 2011, is a furious leviathan packed with outrageous tempos, an annihilating wall of brutal riffage and church-burning profanity. Inferno, much respected for his über-human drumming skills, spoke to We Wither about the new line-up, underground ideals and his hometown.

You started as a really deep underground band and made it to the death metal premier league. How much has changed since 2001’s “Demon Seed” album?
Our approach, values or ideas didn’t change even a bit. I’m glad to say that they are getting stronger and stronger all the time. We have progressed musically and you can clearly see that when you look at Azarath today. There is a new line-up, a new label and finally a new record, which raise a lot of sometimes radical reactions and emotions. They are right and if you also add our satisfaction to the scheme, then everything seems to be going in a good direction.

“Blasphemers’ Maledictions” is a big leap forward even in comparison with the great sound of your earlier albums “Diabolic Impious Evil” and “Praise the Beast”. How was this possible?
There are a few elements that are important in that context. One is the opportunity to work with some new people. Witching Hour gave us a chance to choose the studio to work at with no exact time limit. Second is Necrosodom, who puked out all the lyrics and some guitars too. Third is a cooperation with the great graphic artist Zbigniew Bielak, who did the cover art. Having the time off with Behemoth, I fully undertook the whole process of production of “Blasphemers’ Maledictions”.

Do you think Azarath contribute a lot of new elements to the genre or are you rather a homage to your death metal masters?
If you do your thing honestly with authenticity and total sacrifice, it automatically becomes an original and contributing act. We never wanted to stand out because of originality. The genre’s parameters are pretty much defined and leaning out of them would be out of order and a desecration. I don’t mean limiting ourselves or anything like that. Simply there are things Azarath will never do and I assure you we will never compromise. We stay loyal and faithful to the ideals of true death metal.

The new guitar player and vocalist Necrosodom and the bassist P. joined the band recently. Did they creatively contribute to writing “Blasphemers’ Maledictions”?
We wrote the whole album with the other guitarist Bart. Necrosodom is responsible for lyrics and vocal arrangements. He’s a wild animal in both the studio and on the stage and absolutely lived up to the task. His creativity and passion were very inspiring. I can’t imagine anyone else in the band instead of him. P. joined us while we were recording and his stage debut took place on September’s tour with Bulldozer, Witchmaster and Deus Mortem.

fot. by Aga Krysiuk
In spite of being involved in a lot of other bands, you have managed to produce five regular records in ten years. Is writing for Azarath that easy for you?
We write and record when we feel like it but once we decided to treat this band seriously we wanted to offer new material in regular spaces of time.

What was the impulse to form Azarath, what did it look like in the beginning?
The main motive for starting Azarath was my short break from Behemoth. I met Bruno, who I previously knew from another band – Delerium – we played with in the 90’s. Then we brought in Dlugi who played guitar in Cenotaph. We started practising the discipline of music and alcohol. Eventually Bart of Damnation joined too and that was the moment we actually became a regularly functioning band.

In September 2011 you played a nine-date tour in Poland with Bulldozer, Witchmaster and your new black metal project with Necrosodom called Deus Mortem, where you actually play guitar. In the previous years because of your commitments to Behemoth Azarath was usually performing with ex-Lost Soul drummer Adam Sierzega.
We have changed about three-quarters of the old live set. We mainly focused on songs from “Blasphemers’ Maledictions” and “Diabolic Impious Evil”. We had a new stage design and our shows were filled with brutality and mysticism.

fot. by Aga Krysiuk
Does Azarath give you more artistic satisfaction than Behemoth?
Yes, it does and I don’t think that’s anything shocking or difficult to understand.

Do Behemoth fans talk to you about Azarath when you meet them on foreign tours? Are they aware of Azarath at all?
We will very soon have an opportunity to properly introduce ourselves to a foreign audience because in December we are playing the Hatefest tour with Triptykon, Marduk and Kataklysm and within almost three weeks we will visit Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, and Holland.

Is drumming for Azarath and Behemoth different in any aspect?
The emotions and fatigue are pretty much the same. It’s tough at times but adrenaline helps me to get through the set with no problem. When I perform with Azarath, I’m sometimes pissed off with myself because I have written such sick and breakneck drum parts. On the other hand when I listen to our records I’m really proud and satisfied because I know that’s how it should sound.

In “Terrorizer’s Readers’ Poll of 2009” you were voted the drummer of the year. Does that mean your work on “Evangelion” is your top effort to date?
I don’t believe so. I think what I did on “The Apostasy” was way more difficult and demanding. I wouldn’t be able to entirely repeat those tracks at the moment. That session was one of the most murderous and exhausting experiences in my life. Plus I had a spine injury that wasn’t helpful at all.

fot. by Aga Krysiuk

You come from and live in the city of Tczew, which is located in Eastern Pomerania and has 60,000 inhabitants. Is it easier to keep a healthy perspective distance from a so-called career there?
I generally keep a very big distance from everything around and from myself as well. I’m aware of what I do and living in Tczew is no problem for me. Actually, lately I enjoy spending time in the outdoors more and more. I go to the forests of Kashubia whenever I have the chance and time to do so.