One of the coolest oldschool Death Metal debut full length albums this year was entitled “Catacombs Of The Grotesque” and came from Mexico’s DENIAL… Ralf shares this opinion and hooked up with guitarist Marco Guevara for the following interview…
Hi Marko, hope you’re still holding the Death Metal flag high in Mexico? It seems like all hell broke loose in Mexico within the last couple of days in late April 2009. It’s shocking to see those hysteric reports on the “swine influenca” – virus going hand in hand with earthquake reports. Nothing is more brutal than reality, right!?!
"Hello Ralf, thank you for your interest!!! Right now we have really difficult these days for Mexican society. It seems that the end of this era has just begun in Mexico."
Hm, I discovered DENIAL mainly through seeing your name on the roster and website of Swedish cult (vinyl) label Blood Harvest. It’s not a secret that this label is one of the deadliest addresses for devasting oldschool Death Metal fuckers, so do you think that their release of the “Immense Carnage Vortex” 7” EP really gave you already a kick in terms of reputation or would you rather say that internet medias like MySpace helped even more to spread the first seeds of DENIAL?
"Releasing a 7” EP through Blood Harvest definitely put DENIAL on the underground Death Metal map of fans and collectors of darkened music. Being on a label with this reputation really helps to speak in favour of the band actually. Of course the electronic media accomplished its assignment by offering a taste of what can be found on the new album to any person with web access."
Believe me, there’s so much crap getting released these days, so that it’s a hellish pleasure to have a brilliant rough and untrendy Death Metal effort like “Catacombs Of The Grotesque” on my altar. This album gives me the feeling of dark shivers running down my spine – total darkness far away from all modern elements. Suicidal morbid melodies packed in total heaviness before the final storm clashes over the listener. A lot of people tend to compare you with classical 90s Finnish Death Metal icons like (old) DEMIGOD or DEMILICH. Do you like that!?! To me this album is a massive, heavy and doomed tomb gathering the best elements of European and US styled 90s Death Metal – nothing more. I guess a lot of Black Metal kids would shit in their pants if they would hear these calls from the other dark, haha…
"I’m glad that you really like the album. We’ve called to the real prime sense of the early days of Death Metal oriented cultist matters, you know, all the kind of things in which we are interested. We were neither looking for new styles or new techniques nor being lyrically philosophical. DENIAL stands for the kind of music we like and we take it into some morbid places. Bands like (old) DEMIGOD, DEMILICH, ABHORRENCE (Fin), (old) DISGRACE, PHLEGETHON, SLUGATHOR, CONVULSE, FUNEBRE or Swedish CREMATORY, GOREMENT, AFFLICTED, NECROPHOBIC, DISSECTION, (old) ENTOMBED, NIHILIST had a big impact. Not to forget American IMMOLATION and MORBID ANGEL plus thousands more. Those cult bands still devastate our brains, so it’s very cool that Metal fans worldwide feel the same texture in DENIAL’s album."
I like the nasty and unpolished elements in the production. The music really lives instead of dying clinically. You’ve recruited Swedish mastermind Dan Swanö for the mastering, but I think the album sounds absolutely bloody dirty in a positive meant sense… A lot more dirty than for example the production which he did for Dutch oldschoolers HAIL OF BULLETS, or what would you say? Was Swanö essential or more a sort name dropping element for the album?
"From the beginning we were taking care of a natural brutal sound. We have tried several things and finally we’ve saw that it was pretty simple. Once again taking the prime spirit of Metal recordings, so we’ve plugged the overdrives, volume and gain to the top and that’s it. Dan Swanö made a great work with the mastering. He put the final touch to the album and with his long experience on the genre he really developed an awesome sound for “Catacombs Of The Grotesque”. I think that all elements from the music through the production, recording and mastering and finally the front coverartwork (done by Paul Carrick – Ralf) were essential to have a good result, so we are totally proud of this album!!!"
Why the hell is it so difficult for Mexican bands to have a wider sort of breakthrough within the worldwide Death / Black Metal kingdom? I mean bands like RAVAGER (R.I.P.) or THE CHASM had or have labels like Osmose or Eearache in their back and the Mexican DISGORGE are also a hard touring band. CENOTAPH have been a classical underground name since the 90s and new breeders like INFINITUM OBSCURE or DENIAL have a really dedicated type of impure Death Metal art, but don’t you think that a real sort of leading extreme Mexican Metal act is still missing on the world wide Metal map? Don’t mess around with BRUJERIA, cause I see them as a project and not a real band, haha…
"One of the important matters about this is the Mexican education, which is not oriented by any way on music. Starting there it’s a major problem. When you are growing old you are lucky if you find some friend or uncle that shows you a JUDAS PRIEST album and then you get hooked, but the other 90% of the population prefers the easy listening radio songs, therefore no one in Mexico will support Metal music. Then when you start doing some recordings you are on your own and mostly you are a pretty young Metalhead with no resources to do a decent record, so the result has a shitty audioquality, so when you send this work to international labels they will simply laugh about you. Well, it’s really hard to get a contract, although nowadays Mexican studios have evolved in terms of engineers and experiences. Basically it’s getting better. And you are right, BRUJERIA are not even Mexican!!!"
It seems to me that Mexico belongs to the No.1 countries in Metal bootlegs… You have a hell of Metal shirt bootlegers over there and I must say that some of them really have a clue in doing new killer versions of some long sold out and gone Death Metal classic designs of bands like CREMATORY (Swe), GOREMENT, CARNAGE or TRAUMATIC… Do you like the idea about it or what do you think about sellers who really make a a lot of quick money on ebay with this stuff?
"For me directly it is great, because you will not find these shirts in their original version anymore. We can find almost every bands’ shirt here in very classical versions and if they remake a very good out of print and fan requested shirt and make money with it then they deserve it!!!"
Talking about Europe… With your other Death Metal duties PULVERIZED you’ve done a sort of totally underground arranged tour in 14 days through Central and Eastern Europe in 2005… I guess you’ve noticed that in Europe the scene is also heavily packed and overloaded with shows and tours, or what was your impression? Do you see a big difference between for example Mexican Metalheads and the ones you’ve met in Germany?
"Yes, in every city in which we’ve played there could have been two or three more Metal concerts at the same days, but over there are many people who really enjoy Metal acts. When we’ve started the tour in Belgium I was really impressed by the difference between Mexican and European Metalheads, but you can feel a brotherhood in steel (sounds like a MANOWAR songtitle, ha! – Ralf), everyone is just hanging out, enjoying the show, have a few beers and it’s easy to have some cool and friendly conversations. In Mexico it’s not like this. I will gladly return to do many more shows in Europe."
Marko, when I rushed through your MySpace profile I’ve had the impression that you also have a sort of deeper interest in historical issues… Well, I like to know what you think about all this heathen / pagan streams within the extreme Metal scene? I mean the Mexican history basically has its roots in the ancient civilization like for example the Aztecs, which is also linked to a really interesting, wide and mystical world of mythologies. As we all know Spanish conquistadors like Hernán Cortés brought the Catholic religion and raped literarlly spoken the whole culture, not only in economical sense… What’s your point of view?
"Yes, history is one of my bigger interests. I don’t understand Mexican Black Metal bands that want to achieve the Viking cultures when they really don’t belong to this geographic point in the world, either to feel what Nordic beings feel, taking other names etc. instead to embrace their own ancient culture. As always Christian people satanize everything they don’t know, so that’s why the Spanish built churches over Mexico’s temples and pyramids, destroyed books and archives which includes hundred of years of studies in astronomy, medicine, architecture and much more. Now at least 90% of the Mexicans have Christian beliefs and their god is situated over everything, so they don’t have in their minds that we almost lost our roll in human existence."
Marko, you’re another bloody victim of our brainstorming series, so what rushes spontaneously through your mind when you read the following:
Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto”: "Mayan version of “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis."
Mictlantecutli: "The Goddess that we all pay tribute to sooner or later." (all who don’t know, Miclantecutli is the the god of the dead in the Aztecan mythology – Ralf)
PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals): "A small effort to stop madness against innocent creatures. Maybe they receive more than they give but I don’t see much people doing something about this cause!!!"
Let’s find a way back to DENIAL in the end… I was pretty upset to hear that longtime DENIAL vocalist Ivan “Bloodhunter” left the band. To hell, his vocals sound totally possessed and demonical on “Catacombs Of The Grotesque”. They really add some salt in the wounds for the deadly capacity of this album. Why have you parted ways and how will you compensate this loss, especially in the live situation? Man, this freak has been a totally Death Metal “die hard”!!!
"Yes, Ivan made a very good work on vocals for these years. However he had his own plans for his. I think he wants to relocate in another city and he made the decision to leave the band on his own will. Of course he will be missed, but we can and we will continue with the DENIAL. About live shows, I will take care of the vocals from now on. We are now working on new material and adapting my voice to the “Catacombs Of The Grotesque” songs. Until now the result is very good and of course it will sound much better in a few months!!!"
What kind of expecatations do you have with “Catacombs Of The Grotesque” in the back? I mean you are next to other projects busy with PULVERIZED and drummer Oscar still has his duties in CENOTAPH, so what kind of priority has DENIAL for you? Can you for example imagine to push the band touringwise or is it hard to compromise between all bands you are involved in right now!?!
"When Oscar and I created DENIAL, I had PULVERIZED as first priority band. DENIAL was just planed as a recording project back then, so we started rehearsals and we’ve recorded some songs and we needed almost two years to get the real sound that we’ve been looking for. In order to pay a tribute to the memory of a recently deceased friend we’ve played a show, then came the Blood Harvest signing, then the Asphyxiate Recordings signing, so it turned into a serious band and we all felt that the music that we were making fill ourselves at 100%. So I put PULVERITED in stand-by mode while we recorded the first DENIAL album. Meanwhile Asphyxiate also signed PULVERIZED for the upcoming album. Oscar’s CENOTAPH will just do a 2009 anniversary tour only, so you can say DENIAL is currently our main priority, definitely!!!"
Marko, you’re active in the scene for a long time, so what do you miss most if you have a look at the current type of waves within the Death Metal genre? Do you have a positive feeling about the fact that especially the early 90s Death Metal spirit is gathering again for some real madness?
"There are some things that I really miss from those years. The hand written letters, flyers of many bands promoting their demos or albums, selling t-shirts, trading tapes or CDs. I remember that you wrote to your favourite band and you’ve got a reply a month later. Nowadays you receive a glamorous “thanx for the add”!!!"
Ok Marko, time to close the chapter… All the best for the debut album of DENIAL. It’s right now to my boney one of the best old schoolish Death Metal coffin shakers next to the new FUNEBRARUM album. Thanx for your answers, the final words are up to you…
"Thank you Ralf, I really appreciate your time, interest and words about DENIAL. We’ll keep covering this world in darkness and horror!!!"
Interview: Ralf Hauber
(this interview was originally published in Mystical Music Zine # 14)