Italy’s NECROSPHERE originally started out as CENOTAPH and already put out a couple of releases before they decided for a different moniker and overall more brutal musical approach. Their debut album "Revived" is a fine mixture of straight ahead, brutal oldschool Death Metal and classic SLAYER-esque riffing. We simply had to find out more about this highly promising band that’s why we hooked up with Max for the following interview…
Even though "Revived" is NECROSPHERE’s debut full length, some of you have already been active in the underground since 1988 as CENOTAPH and even released two albums under that name. Who exactly was in CENOTAPH and what has the rest of you been doing at the time? Has anyone of you been in bands even before that maybe?
"Everything started in 1988 when me and Damiano (gt.) decided to put together an extreme band (I’ve known him since we were kids).Years later also Andrea (dr) joined the band; Franco (gt/vox) was a friend of our old drummer Lorenzo and he usually came to our rehearsals to headbang and we knew that one day or another he’ll became a member of the band. None of us came from other known bands."
Why did it take you three years then, until you managed to come up with your debut demo "The Lurking Fear On Desecrated Ground"?
"Well, more than a decade ago things were a bit different from nowadays, in fact none in the band had a job or managed to play so well his instrument… so we decided to wait to release a professional tape."
You already played a bunch of shows outside of Italy after the release of that demo. How was that possible so quick? Did you sell a lot of copies of it?
"Our first demo sold about 200 copies, not so many, I know, but our luck is that we live near the border to Slovenia and Croatia. We have many friends in these countries, so it wasn’t difficult to be inviteded to various metalfests or just to support bigger acts like CARCASS, for example."
In 1992 your second demo "Demonolatreia-Larvae In Corpore Christi" followed… Where do you see the main differences in those two releases?
"I personally adore that tape. With its primitive brutality it reminds me of bands like INCANTATION and IMMOLATION, while our first demo is more Deathrash oriented with some grind parts."
How popular was CENOTAPH generally in your own country and on an international level at the time?!
"In those days we received tons of letters from every fuckin’ place of the fuckin’ world. Those were the years of tapetrading and the cult for underground releases… we were a part of the scene and I still receive letters from people who already know CENOTAPH."
What exactly attracted Planet K Records about the band at the time? I mean, did they get to hear your demos, was it a live show they saw or word of mouth propaganda that they got in touch with you in order to offer you a contract?
"Well, Planet K Records was the label created by our old production manager just because the first label, we were signed to, went bankrupt. I remember we got everything ready for the release but at last, for the reason above mentioned, the newborn Planet K took all the contacts and distribution deals, from the other label, to finally release our debut album."
In 1994 your debut album "Thirteen Threnodies" got released. Did you use any old demo tunes for that or was it all brandnew material?
"Thirteen Threnodies" is a collection of thirteen songs and it features 6 tracks from both our studio demos."
There’s also been a limited edition release (1.000 copies) of "Thirteen Threnodies"… What was the difference between that and the ordinary album?
"This limited edition differs from the regular version only for the cover colors. The first edition came out for promotional matters with a bloodred rendition of the same cover and with different distribution and credits."
Between 1995 and 1997 you had a couple of line-up problems. Would you like to tell us a bit more about that maybe? I could imagine that it must’ve been quite difficult to find replacements, wasn’t it?
"Mmh… I answer that question only by saying "for musical divergence…" but at the time it was quite easy to found other members."
In 1997 you released a new MCD entitled "Heart And Knife". What can you tell us about that? What was the intention behind it and why was it released via a different company (Sterminio Prod.)?
"At the time we entered the studio we were supposed to record an album but, due to some problems with our old drummer, we recorded only 4 tracks. Sterminio Prod. decided anyway to release an EP. In 1996 we had no deal (Planet K didn’t exist anymore) so we accepted the proposal of Sterminio ’cause I knew personally the guy behind this label and we had no time to wait for another chance."
Are you still satisfied with those two releases musically? Were they promoted and distributed properly and are they still available?
"We’re quite satisfied with both CDs but just because these recordings were released in a period without good feeling in the band… About the music I can only say that sometimes I really enjoy it and sometimes I like to play freesbee with it… The promotion was good for the first album, a true worldwide distribution but the "Heart And Knife" MCD wasn’t promoted as well, only underground mail promotion… Both releases are still available through us (firstname.lastname@example.org) at special prices, of course!"
What made you change your bandname into NECROSPHERE then? Have there been any member changes or did you maybe even change your musical direction as well?
"We were forced to change our bandname due to other bands called CENOTAPH (Mexico, Turkey, Poland…) but also because we wanted to re-start with a much more extreme attitude with our new stuff. We changed a couple of members in the band and ’till now NECROSPHERE are, and will remain, with the same line up."
There’s already a whole lot of bands around these days using the word ‘necro’ in their bandname, like NECROPHAGIA, NECRODEATH, NECRONOMICON, NECROPHOBIC and so on. So don’t you think that the choice to change your name into NECROSPHERE was a bit risky maybe?
"No we don’t think so. When we changed we checked out an infinite list of possibilities but we all liked that name and after massive researches we didn’t found any band called like this. About the word "necro" we personally like it totally ’cause it is the first word for us related to Death Metal and there are no problems if other acts use that word in their name (the only important thing is that nobody else uses the word "necro" together with the word "sphere", ha ha..!)."
When I look at the pictures that are included in the booklet of your new album "Revived", I come to the conclusion that you’re very much into a strong visual side as well and that you somehow try to get a certain image across. Tell us a little more about this side of the band
"It’s just something we ever wanted to do in the past but never had the possibility for a matter of problems with our old band mates. We tried with the entire artwork and photos to unite our image to our music. The photos included on the booklet represent our musical attitude, not just our face and our aspect. In the future we’ll surely do something even more extreme ’cause our music will develop into this direction…"
In the first place NECROSPHERE is without a doubt a brutal and straight forward Death Metal act, but it’s also more than obvious that old SLAYER has been a big musical influence on your songwriting as well, haven’t they? Which other bands have been important to you in that direction? ‘Rotten Games’ personally reminds me a bit on ANGEL CORPSE, so
"Of course we’re totally into SLAYER’s evil tunes and they are probably our first subconscious influence but we like tons of other Death Metal gods like INCANTATION, IMMOLATION, ANGEL CORPSE, NILE, HATE ETERNAL, DEICIDE, MONSTROSITY, SARCOFAGO, SINISTER, VADER, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL… Without forgetting true ancient entities like VONOM, EXODUS, DARK ANGEL, HELLHAMMER, POSSESSED, CELTIC FROST, DESTRUCTION, BATHORY, KREATOR, SODOM."
Among the songs on your new album there’s also a pretty cool cover of SLAYER’s ‘Necrophiliac’. Was that song recorded for your album exclusively or have you been approached to contribute that to one of the numerous tribute albums maybe? Any reason why you exactly went for that particular SLAYER tune?
"No, we recorded that song only ’cause it is one of our favourite SLAYER songs and also ’cause we didn’t record any kind of cover songs in the past and we always wanted to do that; we thought immediately that SLAYER was the best choice to start. This song will not be included on any kind of tribute album but, who knows…"
Have you played / recorded any other cover tunes in your career as well?
"As I told you before we didn’t record any cover in the past but while we rehearse we usually play various cult songs, especially from VENOM, KREATOR, SODOM, POSSESSED and BLACK SABBATH (when we are really cold at the beginning of our rehearsals, ha ha!)."
What can you exactly tell us about the NECROSPHERE 1999 promo? Was that actually a tape, vinyl or CD release?
"This recording is the promotional rough version of the songs that appear on "Revived". It’s only a promo CD and we put that on our website with the intention to offer the possibility to download the mp3 format of the songs. Before we had the time to do that we found the deal and we didn’t finish our idea."
Previously to the release of "Revived" there’s also been a NECROSPHERE 4-song 7" EP entitled "Mortis Causa". Except for the title track, all songs also made it onto your debut full length. Why didn’t you use that particular song as well? By the way, did you re-record the other three tunes or have you simply used those recordings for the album as well?
"This limited edition to 500 copies contains 3 tracks taken directly from the "Revived" session. When we decided to release it, on Warlord Records, we recorded the song ‘Mortis Causa’ especially for this edition, just to release a little piece of underground cult."
What about the lyrical side of your songs – are there any particular themes that you concentrate on? Or is everything of interest that comes across very brutal and therefore fits the music?!
"We love to write about different things such as perversion, religion, sex, gore and all kinds of different obscure feelings… Anyway I think our lyrics will evolve in the future towards more personal ideas and even more blasphemy…"
How did you get together with DieHard Music, a company which is not necessarily known for this type of music?
"We simply sent our promo to them like to many other labels. One day they phoned us and we started to work together; we received various interesting proposals but at last we decided that Diehard was the best choice for us. This label is a really strong musical company and they work really well. I think they have many good acts in their roster but we are intentioned to be the most extreme!!!"
Italy wasn’t exactly the number one country when it came to brutal music throughout the years and except for BULLDOZER, SADIST and NECRODEATH there haven’t really been that many bands worth a mention. But it seems to me that this has changed lately and that more and more quality stuff gets released. NECRODEATH is back, maybe stronger than ever before, then there’s HORRID and also NECROFLESH (another ‘necro’-band, haha…)… What do you think is the reason for this positive change and how do you personally judge your own scene?
"I don’t know because I don’t follow our scene; of course I know there are good bands around but the main scene here is that fuckin’ Power Metal and stuff like that… I really hope that in the future the Death scene in Italy will grow and become stronger!"
I was a little confused when I had a look at the intro page of your website… There you label your music as Grind… Don’t you think that you are a lot closer to Death / Thrash Metal than to Grind?
"No no, we don’t mean that we play grindcore… We’ve written: "violent and intense corpseslaughtering and malevolent necro-exhuming deathblasting grind" and it’s something different! We use the word "grind" to describe the speed of our music and anyway we’re sure that "grind" is a surpassed word to describe the speed of Death Metal nowadays!"
Are there any plans for a NECROSPHERE European tour in the near future? Do you think that DieHard will be able to support you in that direction in any way?
"At the moment we prefer to wait the release of the album to start working on an European tour but we’re preparing various promotional shows. We’re still working to find a good live management and we’re sure that we’ll get total support from our label."
Anyway, I guess we covered almost everything by now. If you would like to add something to this interview, feel free to do it now. All the best.
"Thank you very much for your attention; I also want to thank all the German guys because ’till now, we’ve received only excellent reviews and support here, so we really hope to play live in your country soon!Stay fuckin’ extreme!!!"