North East England based VACIVUS, featuring current and ex - members of such bands as CRUCIAMENTUM, WODENSTHRONE and RISEN PROPHECY, have recently had their monstrous sounding debut album "Temple Of The Abyss" released by Profound Lore. It is dark and malevolent sounding Death Metal which takes a heavy influence from the likes of INCANTATION, MORBID ANGEL, IMMOLATION, ABSU etc. Dare you cross the threshold into the temple? Answers by drummer Ian Finley.
For those who are unfamiliar with the band please give the readers a background history on the origins of the band? How did the band form etc.?
"We first formed, in the North East of England, in 2013; setting out with the intention of producing dark, uncompromising music without worrying about stylistic boundaries. Most of us had played together in another band for a few years and so it felt natural to continue making music together after the demise of that project. We wanted to make music which delved into the source of all fear: death. However we don't view death as a simple biological process or carnal action, but more see that it represents a manifestation of a greater force: that which will eventually drag the universe into the void. As such, we set about honing our sound, producing sinister hymns to the death of existence. After around a year of playing together instrumentally, Nick joined on vocals to complete our line-up, both musically and philosophically, and we set about recording our first demos."
You released a couple of well recieved EPs. Please tell the readers a bit about that, what are your thoughts on them now looking back? Are they still available?
"We originally intended "Rite Of Ascension" to be a demo, so we did it on a very limited budget in a local studio, playing everything live with no click track. The only overdubs were vocals and solos, and we managed to get all 5 tracks recorded in a single day! We were really happy with how it turned out, all things considered, as it captured the live energy of the band well, but we definitely felt limited due to the constraints of the recording method. Shortly after we recorded the demo, Goatprayer Records contacted us and offered to release it on cassette, which sold out straight away. Hellthrasher Productions then re-released it on CD which you can still get hold of from the label or from our merch page. Our next EP, "Nuclear Chaos" came out on 7" in March this year through Goatprayer. With this release we really wanted to spend more time on the recording, to allow us to achieve a greater depth of texture and atmosphere. However, the local studio were somewhat out of their depth, so we recruited Dan Lowndes (CRUCIAMENTUM / Resonance Sound Studio) to mix and master the EP. His experience really brought the recordings to life! I definitely feel that "Nuclear Chaos" was a good indication of how our sound would develop with the debut album, in terms of both the production and the songwriting."
Your new full length album "Temple Of The Abyss" was recently unleashed via Profound Lore. Please tell us more about what the readers can expect from this album in your own words?
"Musically, "Temple Of The Abyss" is full of dark, intense Death Metal oozing with sinister atmosphere. It's also our most diverse release in terms of its influences, as we have continued to incorporate different elements in our music such as hints of Death / Doom, Black Metal and even D-beat at points. It's definitely our most confident and complete release yet. I feel like our sound has developed distinctly with every record we've produced, and "Temple Of The Abyss" shows our sound developing further than ever. Conceptually, the album is a musical glorification of the eternal forces of entropy, decay and death which will inevitably destroy the entire universe. I think the music captures that vibe really well as it has a certain apocalyptic feel to it."
How did the deal with Profound Lore come about? What formats are available?
"Chris contacted us out of the blue shortly before the release of the "Nuclear Chaos" 7" and the rest, as they say, is history. Profound Lore have released the album on CD and LP, and Goatprayer Records have recently released a cassette version. Profound Lore have a history of releasing great music and it's really humbling to be working with the label."
Where was the album recorded / mixed / mastered and why did you choose those places / people to work with?
"We recorded the album in Priory studio with Greg Chandler (ESOTERIC) as we had worked with him previously in other bands and knew he was the right man for the job. He really managed to capture the sound we wanted and added a whole new dimension to the record, including working with us to create the intro 'Premonitions'. Recording in Priory is always a great experience. For mastering, we went with Dan Lowndes as he really understands the kind of music we produce and knows how to get the best out of a recording."
What do you feel are the significant differences between the EP and full length?
"As I mentioned earlier, "Rite Of Ascension" was originally intended as a demo, so we just wanted to get something recorded quickly and cheaply. With "Nuclear Chaos" we were able to take more time over the recordings and showcase more details within the music such as chanted vocals, atmospheric keys etc., however we were still somewhat limited in regards to the studio and our budget. With "Temple Of The Abyss" we didn't feel restricted at any stage of the recording, and I really feel like we managed to capture the sinister atmospheres within our music better than ever before without losing any of the vital savagery that is central to our sound."
How long did it take to write the album? What is the VACIVUS writing process like?
"The album was written over a year or so, although in that time we also wrote the tracks which would appear on the "Nuclear Chaos" EP. We are quite prolofic songwriters and so we tend to write different songs in different ways. Some songs were written by one member of the band in their entirety, whilst others were written in the rehearsal room as a true collaboration between all of us. We generally try to let the song write itself as much as possible; letting the music dictate where it needs to go next. This is one of the reasons why we end up with diverse elements creeping into our sound. The key thing that we try to maintain is the sense of darkness within our music, and other than that we just let the song go where it needs to go."
Do you have any new material already written?
"Yes, we've already started writing a few new tracks which may appear as a possible split release in the future, but nothing is set in stone yet."
Who designed the album cover and came up with the concept?
"The artwork was produced by Brooke Johnson (AXIS OF PERDITION, HESPER PAYNE etc.) who is a good friend and a great artist. I've personally always loved his work, and when I saw the piece he produced for the HESPER PAYNE / SABAZIUS split I knew I wanted him to work with VACIVUS. He first produced the cover for our "Nuclear Chaos" EP; based on the concept of Azathoth from the writing of H.P Lovecraft. We loved his unique take on the subject, and the terrifying sense of scale he captured in the image, so it seemed natural to get him to do the artwork for "Temple Of The Abyss". The concept of the cover was the inside of a vast, temple dedicated to the ancient, ruinous force of death. Brooke wanted to incorporate elements of the artwork from all of our previous releases within the cover, so he paid tribute to the rising smoke from "Rite Of Ascension" as well as the tentacles from "Nuclear Chaos". My favourite part of the cover is the pair of tiny figures at the bottom of the image which reveal the terrifying scale of the temple."
What inspires you to put pen to paper lyrically? What do the lyrics on the album deal with?
"Lyrically I try to explore the nature of death as a universal force, and our songs are prayers to the great yawning maw of oblivion which will eventually devour us all. I find inspiration in the occult, particularly in ancient forms of death worship and ritual magick. I also find inspiration in theoretical physics, which teaches us that the universe will inevitably return to a barren, lifeless void. Our lyrics often tie concepts from the two schools of thought together to try and comprehend the all consuming impulse which gnaws at the heart of the universe."
What bands helped to shape the sound of VACIVUS influence wise? Which bands made you want to play Death Metal? I sense a strong INCANTATION vibe / influence in places.
"Musically INCANTATION are a big source of inspiration along with other killer bands such as early IMMOLATION, MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION etc., however we also draw a lot of inspiration from bands like MAYHEM, DISEMBOWELMENT, ABSU etc. that are not as immediately obvious. We all have very eclectic musical tastes, and so we all draw individual influences from different sources. For me, early SEPULTURA are the band that originally got me into Metal, so they will always be a big influence personally."
Tell us about the band name and its meaning?
"VACIVUS is latin, meaning 'Void' or 'Empty'. We chose the name as we felt that it encapsulated the concept of the band well, being devoted to the worship of the chaotic void from which all existence sprung and will one day return to."
How active are you as a live entity? What can people expect from a VACIVUS live show?
"We are fairly active on the UK live scene, having recently toured with BARSHASKETH this year and with LIVE BURIAL last year, and hope to take our message of destruction into Europe and possibly beyond next year. Our live shows are dark, aggressive and intense as we channel the destructive energies of the sinister impulse into our performances. Expect total annihilation!"
You recently did a UK tour, how did that go? Any other tours lined up? Would you like to break out into European live scene in support of this album? Any plans to play outside of the UK?
"Our recent tour with BARSHASKETH was a huge success! It was great to play with some killer bands and take our music to new places. It was an honour playing alongside BARSHASKETH every night as they proved that they are one of the best live bands around. We're currently looking into spreading our unhallowed message further afield into Europe and possibly beyond in 2018."
How is your local scene? Some of you are involved in other bands please tell us about those
"The North East has quite a diverse and active scene for Metal currently. In particular it is great to see bands like LIVE BURIAL keeping the flame of true Death Metal alive in the local scene. In regards to our other bands; Nick also plays in NEOLITHIC, Dan Rochester plays in CRUCIAMENTUM and SPARTAN WARRIOR among others, and Ross plays in RISEN PROPHECY. We are also involved in some other projects which have not yet been formally unveiled."
What is your opinion about the UK Death Metal scene currently?
"Like all scenes there are good bands and shit ones. The UK does have a number of great Death Metal bands currently though including (but not limited to) CRUCIAMENTUM, GRAVE MIASMA, QRIXQUOR and ABYSSAL."
Any bands you feel an affinity with both from the UK and elsewhere?
"We feel a strong affinity with both LIVE BURIAL and BARSHASKETH who we recently toured with, as well as with our allies in CRUCIAMENTUM. There are also bands such as CORPSESSED from Finland and ANTIVERSUM from Switzerland who, whilst musically very distinct from each other, I feel are walking a similar path to ourselves in one way or the other."
Do you follow the happenings in the worldwide Death Metal scene. Any current favourites you want to promote to the readers?
"It's been a good year for Death Metal all round, but I think that PHRENELITH and SPECTRAL VOICE's releases are the definite highlights from this year. NECROT and CONTAMINATED both released killer albums too!"
Thanks for your time, please leave your current top 10 playlist... also the last words are yours.
"Worship at the temple of the abyss. My current top 10 playlist: SPECTRAL VOICE - "Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing", PHRENELITH - "Desolate Endscape", BLOOD INCANTATION - "Starspawn", BARSHASKETH - "Ophidian Henosis", COFFIN TEXTS - "The Tomb Of Infinite Ritual", VORUM - "Poisoned Void", BEASTMILK - "Climax", CONTAMINATED - "Final Man", CHELSEA WOLFE - "Abyss" and TYPE O NEGATIVE - "October Rust". Thanks for the support!"
Kat "Shevil" Gillham
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