To find new bands, that are capable of creating something new in the realms of Death Metal is hard nowadays. Especially because of the fact, that many so called “original” bands do not have an idea how to write crushing riffs or great songs – noise isn’t innovative!!! One band that sounds fresh and filled with energy and still does not forget about its roots and the essence of Brutal Death Metal – the darkness, the hate, thunderous blasts… is DIVINE RAPTURE from the US. They have a very promising Promo CD out (check the review section for more info about that) and deserve any support they can get. So I contacted vocalist Michael Hrubovcak aka Metal Mike, a very engaged and great guy, and here are his answers…
DIVINE RAPTURE are sadly quite unknown in Germany, so I think it would be good if you would sum up your band’s biography and line-up and tell me what you have released so far! In what bands did you play before starting DIVINE RAPTURE?
"Divine Rapture has been around since like 1995, but at first it was just me and my brother J.J. (guitar / brainchild). We started the project and have been feeding and raising this demonic child of ours ever since we put out our debut demo CD back in 1999 – that did well and got us tons of exposure world wide, but it was only the beginning. Those old CD’s are just about sold out now, but it’s a classic. We then found our other guitarist Babak later on, as well as our drummer then (now in Malevolent Creation) and recorded a three song Promo CD down in Tampa Florida that was recorded by Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel / Hate Eternal). This Promo really put us on the map and has shown the Metal Underground the true potential we have. Now with our current lineup and the addition of our new bassist Ryan from EVIL DIVINE, we are ready to crush! With a full length CD coming out shortly. The album is called "The Burning Passion" and will feature 12 tracks plus a music video for the song ‘Spirit Storm Serenade’, which we filmed with the famous NYC photographer Aaron Cobbett (VOGUE / UNIVERSAL). And to answer your other question – yes we all had other bands before DIVINE RAPTURE, but D.R. is the main focus and none of them can compare to this new fusion of such a powerful entity. We are all very excited and confident."
Then I would like to know what is going on with DIVINE RAPTURE at the moment and when there will be some new material? What will it sound like? Any great changes compared to your previous releases? Have you found a label yet, when yes, how did you get in contact?
"Well, we’re trying to play more shows again and getting ready to record this new album. We have the Milwaukee Metalfest coming up soon and then sometime after it, we will begin to record the album. It’s ALOT different then the previous stuff we have. I mean it’s even more brutal – alot more dynamic time changes and extreme blasting. The vocals are more dynamic as well – more punchy and gastly, but even adding a touch of clean vocals in some parts – only to bring it back down to apocalyptic devastation. We also add alot of synth compositions and arrangements to totally conjure the raw emotions. The new material is all generated towards our theme of "The Burning Passion" and totally embodies the bombastic beauty of flame and fire. As for labels – we have some interests and have had some offers, but we are keeping things underwraps for now – until things become solid as to not jinx it or hex it. But be prepared for a full onslaught and a great surprise."
To whom did you send your material, how was the response on it? I personally think it’s absolutely great and has big potential.
"We’ve sent it to basically every label… every person who inquires about it, and as many radio stations and magazines physically possible… and the response is always an overly energetic excitement. People seem to really go nuts and compare us to the big league bands, which is a great compliment. But we have so much more to show them as well, and have so much more up our sleeves.This new album will really showcase just a taste of what is to come with D.R."
In my opinion one can compare Divine Rapture with Hate Eternal or Morbid Angel but DR add some quite unique melodic elements and have a stronger emotional approach. Is this an adequate description, how would you define DIVINE RAPTURE’s sound, what makes it different? What are your main musical influences? What are your roots?
"WOW! Awesome! Thanks. Yes of course – I can see how those two influences can be drawn, but I think you hit the nail right on the head with describing us as more melodic and emotional. We put all we have, all our inner spirits into every note and phrase and I think that’s what comes out. PURE EMOTIONAL PAIN. A heartfelt seriousness that alot of people can relate too. It’s more personalized and real. As for influences. I think everyone’s is different. My brother J.J. draws from Classic and Jazz and Babak draws from Persian Folk and such (that’s great, I’ve heard many guys talking about their roots – telling me they love Pop, Dance or Gothic, but no one ever mentioned Persian Folk, ha ha – Stefan). And then we also have the old school Metal – like carcass, pestilence, morbid angel, anathema, gorguts…"
The lyrics of your “Promo 2001” MCD seem very personal and intense, absolutely great. In my eyes they differ a lot from the common gore or blasphemous Death Metal-lyrics, although I love this kind of lyrics as well. Tell me more about your lyrics and their origin. Are they based upon personal experience or have they a cultural, philosophical background as well? Who’s responsible for them and what do you want to deliver with them, has Divine Rapture a certain message???
"Yes, I handle all the lyrics and all the artwork and imagery and all. It’s all very personal stuff to me. Experiences that I have had, or beliefs or wisdoms that I have learned through, personal struggles or pains I have had in life. But I try to do it in such a way whereas everyone can relate to it in someway and apply it to their own struggles to vexate there own personal pain and emotions over this empty world. We have kind of a message I quess, when it comes down to it… but it’s each of our own individual messages coming through the same outlet… that can be best described through the "self" and self learning, awareness and growth through pain and struggle to higher wisdoms or plateaus (whether welcomed or otherwise). You can visit our website and go to the "forums" page for a more in depth description of everyone’s individual perception of what DIVINE RAPTURE means to them."
The US scene has a load of strong bands, but a lot tend to do this extreme Death / Grind like DISGORGE or BRODEQUIN, which I’m not very fond of, it lacks of darkness and emotion. I miss the old-school, true Death Metal feeling when I listen to those acts. What do you think about this development? In what category would you put Divine Rapture? Do you sympathize more with the old-school attitude or do you like the new style?
"Um – even though I like bands like DISGORGE and such, I am a much bigger fan of the emotionally dark and foreboding bands of old, which conjure darkness, pain and purity of heart. True soul touching atmosphere.So yes – I guess in a way I also miss the old Death Metal feelings, which are hard to find in today’s scene. I think it all has to do with energy and seriousness about your beliefs and motives… there are not that many bands out there today, that truly flip out about serious stuff – and just rehash unpersonal gore topics or ignorant satanic babble, that just battles the same concept of some "god" or "gods" that should have been abolished from the psyche years ago. It’s like there’s no growth."
How are the relations between the bands in the US? Do you support each other or are there intrigues and struggles among the US bands as well? (here in Germany I sometimes think, that the intrigues are more important than the music, what definitely is the wrong way!!!) Are there any bands you dislike or even despise, bands you think that are bad for the scene and the underground???
"Fortunately we have not come across any band as a whole, who has conflicted with us, everyone we have come across is always supportive and vice versa, except for the occasional asshole – but they don’t stick around too long to be a real concern. Basically all the bands are very cool – o.k. with sharing equipment, trading shows etc."
Tell me something about the live gigs you did already. With what bands did you play and how did you came along with each other? Are there any funny or shocking anecdotes? What does a DIVINE RAPTURE show offer the fans?
"Well – everytime we play a show – people are always amazed at how much we get into it. We totally flip out and we like to set an extremely dark atmosphere before we play to get everyone focused on the darkness and pain – then we come out and crush. We have people chanting the words and mixing it up in the pit… it’s very energetic and real. We’ve played with bands like, Kataklysm, Dying Fetus, Avulsed, Deicide, Malignancy, Monstrosity, Mortician, In flames, etc. The festivals are really the best though, that’s when we get the biggest crowds and get to see our fans from all over the globe, who fly out to see us, as well as the rest of the killer lineup at these fests. Funny anecdote? Well the last Milwaukee Metalfest our drummer at the time (now in Malevolent Creation) stood us up – and we were forced to make a decision – either not play and disappoint the HUGE crowd we had – or go on anyway – (without drums) – so we went on anway – and the crowd STILL loved us and went mad! We even had a raging pit and everyone gave us countless praise for not giving up and still going on. It was quite an experience which proved the dedication and power behind our music and our fans. What a weird pissed off time, but an uplifting one too at the same time – when it turned out to be a killer show. Blasting Death Metal – without drums… lol… but still tight as fuck!"
What are your musical favorites at the moment, the latest albums you bought, alltime faves? Are there any new, talented underground bands, you heard of and recommend?
"Well at the moment for me anyway – the last couple of albums I bought were ANATHEMA’s new one (they fucking kill! Not Death Metal, but I’ve been following them since the demo days and they’re still one of the most emotional bands I know)… the new SENTENCED is good… IMMOLATION is great – getting better and better… the new VADER, DARK FUNERAL etc. Some of my all time personal favorites are too many to name – but of course they are all old school, like MORBID ANGEL’s “Blessed Are The Sick”, DEICIDE “Deicide”, ENTOMBED “Clandestine”, DEATH’s “Human”, GORGUTS “Erosion Of Sanity”, PESTILENCE “Testimony Of The Ancients”, THE ABYSS “Summon The Beast”, DAWN “Slaughtersun”, ULVER “The Magdrical Of Night”, etc. Some new killer bands from around our way in this area that I recommend are Polterchrist, Funeral Mask, Carnevian, Solace in the shadows, Engorge, Dark Supremacy, etc."
In Europe the Black Metal scene is still quite big, but getting weaker, I think US Black Metal is doing very well at the moment? Great bands, cool festivals, overall a upcoming, strong scene , what do you think of this development? What’s your opinion about Black Metal in general? What bands do you like, which not? Did you ever think about bringing Black Metal influences into your music?
"Um – yeah, I can see what your saying – I totally agree and think the same. There has been a huge jump in the amount of American Black Metal bands popping up over the past couple of years. Some are actually really quite good and yet some are pretty cheesy – still holding onto the traditional bad production, paint your face like a troll thing. I mean some of the bands have been doing that from the beginning and a lot of them kick ass. But the Death Metal bands who go from extreme Death to the next day painting their faces and calling themselves Black Metal – that’s not real. Some great American Black Metal bands that I love are: Mactatus, Lord of all Desires, Theater of the Macabre, etc. As for us combining any “Black Metal” influences into our music – if incorporating sad, morose, suicidal melodic riffs is a form of "Black Metal" then I guess yes – we have been doing that from the beginning along with the grinding pulverizing Death riffs."
DIVINE RAPTURE is a very spiritual band, so I would like to know, if you have any relation to occult, satanic or antichristian attitudes or movements? Do you care about religion?
"No we don’t, a lot of people mistake our band for a christian band sometimes, because of our name – but once they see us live and read our lyrics and dig deep they realize that we are not – and that by saying "divine" we mean the representation of the "self" creating the morals and chosen life affliction, and that all these things such as religion, etc are all created in the self, by the self, for the self, and that higher "rapture" comes from the personal manifestation of the chosen psychie on your personal life’s emotions. If you want to hear more of each of our personal descriptions of "divine rapture", go to our forums page on our website."
In my eyes Death Metal is more than just a musical genre, it is a way of life. What does “Death Metal” mean for you? What life-style or attitudes do you connect with it? How long are you interested in this type of music? What do you think is the most important in being “Death Metal”?
"Of course!!! Death Metal is definitely a way of life. I think the title "Death Metal" fits very well to this music we create, because in our hearts we all have to admit the conscious negative / positive facts that we will all die someday – death is reality. So is a living death – which is the struggles and pain we face everyday. It’s a release of the inner emotions that will NEVER go away until the day we die, it’s a churning passion motivated by thought, wisdom and awarenesss, it’s a struggle to live everyday to the fullest, with bitterness and joy co-existing by the vexation of the negative realities that are ALWAYS present through this emotional music. I have been into this style of music as my number one release from the first day I heard it – like 17-18 years ago. And ever since the begining I knew this was the one thing that I can relate to the most."
I’m always interested in what Death Metal musicians do in their all-day life (e.g. I heard that Will Rahmer of MORTICIAN delivers pizza in spikes and leather, if that’s true, I don’t know?), what do you guys do for a living, desecrating graves???
"Haaa-Haa! Yeah, but I’m pretty sure he delivers flowers for a living. He’s a florist or at least that’s what I heard – I should ask him the next time I see him. Will’s a great guy. Um, well I’m a graphic designer, I do all the artwork for DIVINE RAPTURE, as well as I do band CD packaging for other bands in the Underground – some bands I have worked with are Sons Of Chaos, Abominant, Evil Divine, Renegade Records, Wiking Division, Aurora Borealis, Lilitu, and more. Check out my site www.productivethought.com/html/metalmike.html, but during the day my main professional job is as a Graphic Designer for a major Porn Magazine (!!! – Stefan) and DVD movie company here in my area. I handle all the magazine covers and DVD covers, etc. My brother works in computers, and Babak works in the same I think, and our bassist Ryan is also studying to be a computer specialist. I guess that’s where the $ is – computers."
What really would be great, would be seeing DIVINE RAPTURE kicking the shit live. Are you going to tour Europe someday or is that still wishful thinking?
"Oh, of course – it will happen. We just have to save enough funds. We’ve been offered several fests and tours overseas with some helpful bands… but it just costs too much for plane tix, etc. But we will soon travel abroad – it’s one of our near future goals." (tell me when this happens!!! I’ll be there – on my knees! – Stefan)
So Mike, this is all for now, massive thanks for your cooperation, now it’s up to you to find some last words, add something I forgot, your contact address / email address and so on!!!
"Um – thanks for the interview – you kick ass! Really nice questions – and you seem to know your shit! HAILS to you and to all the Death Metal freaks who read this interview. Keep the burning passion flaming high!!!!! Keep it fucking real!!!! Here’s our contact info and merchandise info: 12 songs (plus digitized music video) 1999 debut CD – $10.00, 5 songs promo CD-R (produced by Erik Rutan) – $3.00, t-shirts – $10.00. Write to: DIVINE RAPTURE, P.O. Box 159, Chester Heights, PA 19017 USA, email@example.com, www.divinerapture.net. The new full length album "The Burning Passion" will be recorded soon and will include a digitized music video for the song ‘Spirit Storm Serenade’, full color booklet and design . THIS ALBUM WILL LEAVE YOUR EARS AND HEARTS BLEEDING!!!! FOREVER SHALL CHURN THE BURNING PASSION WITHIN OUR WRITHING HEARTS!!! HAILS TO YOU ALL!!"