SIJJIN is the new band of Malte Gericke (bass and vocals), to most of you reading this, probably better known as Mors Dalos Ra from the now sadly defunct German blackened Doom / Deathers NECROS CHRISTOS. Together with Basque members Iván Hernández on drums (also ex – NECROS CHRISTOS) and Ekaitz Garmendia on guitars he started up SIJJIN. In September of 2019 the three-piece already released their impressive debut demo “Angel Of The Eastern Gate”, which features four songs of thrashy Death Metal in the vein of the old masters of the genre. To find out a bit more about SIJJIN, we contacted Malte for the following in-depth interview…
So, right after the fold of NECROS CHRISTOS, your previous band, SIJJIN was born. How much time did it take you to bring the band into fruition? When was it formed?
“Actually, the fires of SIJJIN were already poked when NECROS CHRISTOS took its final breaths. While SIJJIN had recorded the “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” demo in summer 2019, we had simultaneously planned a couple of farewell shows for NECROS CHRISTOS in 2020, but of course it all fucked up due to known reasons. To be precise, the SIJJINian trio originally found together during the trip we made to PartySan in 2017, where Ekaitz, Ivan and me sealed an oath of starting a new band with all powers imaginable.”
Who came up with the name and what does it mean?
“It is me who came up with the name and the others succumbed to it immediately. I read the term years ago in a book about Islamic afterlife conceptions and it was my one and only choice to name a new band thereafter. The word has different meanings, I for myself prefer to read it as “the deepest region of hell”. I can’t explain it properly, but there’s a certain power which emanates out of its letters and besides I love its notation.”
Did you have in mind who you wanted in the band, since you brought Ivan Hernandez on board as well? How did Ekaitz Garmendia end up playing in SIJJIN?
“The decision about the line-up was not mine alone and took place unconsciously. Ekaitz is Ivan’s oldest comrade, both used to play together in a couple of outfits before Ivan later moved to Berlin and became a NECROS CHRISTOS member. I can clearly remember when I first saw Ekaitz play, my jaws truly dropped. His tone and aggressive way of playing is something which I admire from that day on and as fate willed, we became close friends too. When we three did the aforementioned trip to PartySan, I told the guys about my ideas for a new band and since everyone was into it, we left the festival as the self-appointed trinity of SIJJIN without having played a single note.”
Is SIJJIN a departure in both music and concept from NECROS CHRISTOS? What has changed and how is the band working to identify itself?
“Some things do simply happen, not a single thought was wasted about how we should step out of the shadow of the dead Christ. As everybody can hear, SIJJIN’s Metal of Death is clearly rooted in the mid and end 80s, where Death Metal took the fierce aggressiveness of Thrash and bred its own bastard. Although it was not clearly hearable in NECROS CHRISTOS, I always loved my Death Metal thrashy, aggressive yet with the original darkness it came from. You know, I live in my own world which mostly consists of 80s xeroxed cut’n’paste fanzines, demos and vinyls and I am not following the fancy Metal press at all. The thing which has changed most is that my approach to riffs and vocals became way more brutal. SIJJIN’s music may demand a bit less of a spiritual mind in comparison to NECROS CHRISTOS, but has a way more destructive feeling and is meant to destroy stages with the furiousness of Death-magic Metal.”
Who comes up with the music? Is it a band effort or is there a main composer?
“I deliver the riffs first, but how the song will turn out in the end comes due to the impact of my mates. Until Ivan moved back to Basque Country last year, we both worked on the basic framework together and recorded a raw version of each track. Then Ekaitz normally took over, changed some details here and there while being the far greater electric guitar player. As soon as the song flew, I changed to bass and started working on the lyrics and bass lines. So speaking of a main composer it could be indeed me, but I would more call it an idea giver. It would lead into absolute nothing if not Ivan and Ekaitz would put their true talent into each song and riff.”
Where is the inspiration for the lyrics taken from?
“Most lyrics on “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” were highly influenced by the Enuma Elish and dealt with ancient Sumerian spells, gods, sorcery and deities. As for the new tunes, I love telling classical horror stories yet still am I obsessed by various themes such as black magic, the deceased, pharaonic Egypt and some obscure sort of outer existence, although it might sound a bit corny even. But anyway, judging all my latest efforts I must say that those new lyrics belong to the best I have ever written.”
Were the songs for “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” already written or were they made for the demo? Is there other material ready for new releases?
“The demo songs were indeed written for SIJJIN only, no older ideas got used. We have finished all tracks for an upcoming full length and I must say we have improved our song writing a lot. Nevertheless, I am still very fond of the demo’s title track as well as ‘Remnants Of Cambrian Evil’, but the new tunes definitely surpass the demo material in all aspects.”
Where was the demo recorded? Do you have any interesting story related to the recording process?
“Ekaitz owns his own studio, and it is one for real, not just an ordinary rehearsal space. He has two different rooms for recording and tons of fine equipment which he gathered over the years. Not to forget he’s an excellent producer and engineer too. His property is called BlackStorm Studios and lies isolated in the mountains of Karrantza, Basque Country. Being at his place always means to contemplate on your material for real, shunned by the world and you are able to set focus for 100%. I remember Ekaitz made a list about the tasks to each song, and behind each title were just two words written… Death Metal. I also remember that we played excessively as we recorded live, means we did each track as often as needed to have it in one complete take, no song was cutted, no parts were edited. Especially Ivan did an incredible performance if you ask me. We just overdubbed the second rhythm guitar, leads and vocals. We lived as monks with only Death Metal worshiped on the altar and we will record our album exactly the same way.”
Since its release back in September 2019, what was the reaction to “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” in the Underground?
“Quite overwhelming, really. We never expected so many euphoric reactions and we got many good reviews from all around the world. If not the damn covid thing has started to happen, we already would have been able to do some really good shows. Nonetheless, we hope to catch up on this as soon as gigs will be possible again.”
Has the background from the other members of the band influenced SIJJIN in any way?
“Since Ivan and Ekaitz are of Basque origin, their youth had been indeed more difficult than those of others and their experiences with the police and authorities may have affected their entire life. Both have witnessed oppression and harassment and for sure, those feelings went into their way of expressing themselves as musicians. This may be one of the reasons why both kick the shit out of their instruments for real.”
Which bands, if any, can you name as influences for SIJJIN? Do you have other influences coming from different forms of art and / or real life?
“Inspiration can indeed come from different layers and to start musically, there’re plenty of bands which influenced SIJJIN definitely. I would like to name POSSESSED, SLAYER, SADISTIC INTENT, DESECRATION (US / San Francisco), INSANITY (US / San Francisco), INCUBUS (US / Florida), INFERNÄL MÄJESTY, SEPULTURA, HELLWITCH, SADUS, MORBID ANGEL, MORTEM (Peru), NOCTURNUS, DARK ANGEL, SODOM, HOBBS ANGEL OF DEATH, KREATOR, MERCYFUL FATE, AGENT STEEL, TOXIK and HELSTAR. I am also highly inspired by certain scenes as for example the great South American one, especially those of Chile. Damn, what adorable forces spawn forth from there like ATOMIC AGGRESSOR, MAYHEMIC, DEATHWARDS, DEKAPITED, RIPPER, it really seems, the 80s never ceased to exist. What also encourages me a lot is consistency. Take Mike Browning for example, he’s a legend and still delivers while others have failed for decades. “Paradox” from NOCTURNUS AD was my most favourite release of 2019, what an insane masterpiece. I also worship the guitar playing of Gene Palubicki, neither he nor Mister Browning bowed to any trend but simply kept the flame burning. Another fine example would be Wannes Gubbels and the PENTACLE guys, for how long do they celebrate Death Metal by now? I just can freeze with utmost respect when thinking about. Same with the aforementioned SADISTIC INTENT, one of the greatest bands ever. Another, serious matter of the heart of mine is to name all the great fanzines which still exist and which serve as the true pillars of the underground. Prime examples as “Noise And Shit”, “Bells Of Acheron”, “Snakepit” and the reactivated “Necromaniac” are just a few and without all of them, our beloved scene would be barely half worth of it. At the end, I would like to point out that the art of Timo Ketola will be truly missed, his insanity and character inspired me beyond words. His departure is one of the greatest losses the extreme Metal underground has to suffer from for ages. And besides, he was a friend. Fortunately, masters like Manuel Tinnemans are still amongst us to inspire musicians for decades to come.”
Did Sepulchral Voice Records approach you for the reissue of “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” on both CD and vinyl formats? Are you satisfied with their support and have these reissues helped spread the name around in the global underground?
“The work of Sepulchral Voice Records is always fantastic and they do an incredible job. It is run by maniacs with the only reason to support other maniacs, therefore I wouldn’t even call it a label but a brotherhood in Metal. It is not the fucking business which binds us, but passion, honesty and friendship. Since the request for the demo was high and it was clear that the tape wouldn’t serve all demands, we all agreed on having it released on vinyl and CD as well. Speaking of the global underground, the demo will see two exclusive reissues very soon. One is done by J. Claros from “Bells Of Acheron” zine for South America and Mexico and the other will be made by Blasphemisia Prod. from Indonesia for the Asian world. We are absolutely grateful for the support of those forces and couldn’t be more satisfied with the impact “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” left on the scene.”
It’s been a year since the release of “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” and the current global pandemic didn’t help bands at all. Do you have plans for a new release, perhaps a full length? Any concerts or gigs in the future?
“As said earlier, all material for a full length is written and we aim to record the album this summer hopefully. The record will be called “Sumerian Promises” and will contain nine or ten songs, depending on whether we will re-record one of the demo tracks or going for new ones only. We also have some gigs and even a tour planned for 2022, but it might be too early to reveal anything. Regarding the current situation absolutely nothing is safe, so I hope I can get my ass down to Basque Country in July to raise hell and record the album with the guys.”
Well, that was it. Thanks again for your time, Malte. This space is yours to use as you like.
“Many thanks for the interview Alfonso, it was a pleasure and a great honour to be featured by the mighty Voices. With utmost respect to all readers, keep the flame alive and support the underground with heart and soul. 7 prayers, 7 bells, 7 churches rise from Hell.”
Interview: Alfonso Perez