ZEMIAL has yet been part of Franang zine when the zine was on paper format, and for those who follow the saga since the early days, they know that I like to support bands all along their career. ZEMIAL is one of the few Greek Black Metal band (even though they were established in Australia for some years ) that remains true to their root. Nevertheless, their new album "In Monumentum" was the opportunity to get news from the twisted brothers who officiate in this truly excellent combo. I caught the opportunity to get news from Agatus too. Read on clever answers from Vorskaath. Interview conducted in August 2007.
Eskarth and Vorskaath, first of all thanks again for answering a new interview
with Franang zine !!! Horns
Greetings Eric, it is my pleasure to do so.
How is the day today ? So now you're
come back from Australia and live in Germany now. How has your experience
been over there and why did you move back to Europe ?
I guess you choose to come back to
Germany because it is the largest Metal scene in Europe…?
me being wrong in the early days of ZEMIAL you were really involved in the
underground Metal scene collecting demos, EP and fanzines. How is your regard
now on this early Black / Death Metal scene ? What were the demos and 7EP
that really affected you musically back then ? Can you remember some fanzines
you were die-hard fan of ?
You are right. As I always say, the underground scene was entirely different to what the scene is today (naturally). I definitely preferred it to today, though the scene today may have its moments as well. Demos that really inspired me were:
Rotting Christ "Satanas Tedeum", Treblinka "The Sign of the Pentagram", Asphyx "Crush the Cenotaph", Master’s Hammer "Jilemnický okultista", "The Mass", Samael "Messenger of the Light", Varathron "Genesis of Apocryphal Desire".
Good fanzines Daemonium Aeturnus, Slayer, the short publications from the Absu guys, Putrefaction and others that elude at the moment.
keep on this topic, the scene you come from was born nearly twenty years
ago could you remember your very first steps in this scene both as a fan
and a musician ? The Greek scene was pretty strong back then with Rotting
Christ, Necromantia, Varathron, Kawir and Zemial, do you have funny stories
about these bands in their debut as I guess you shared rehearsal rooms,
gigs or pub with them and do you like the latest materials from Rotting
Christ and Varathron ?
evolution of ZEMIAL is rather uncommon, "The Sleeping Under Tartarus",
"For The Glory Of UR" are pure grim Black Metal while "Face
The Conqueror" is more Heavy Metal oriented and the new "In Monumentum"
is more Epic Black Metal. How could you explain these changes according
to releases ? Do you think ZEMIAL has no musical borderlines and can play
in any Metal directions ?
I think we can play in most musical styles (depending on the personnel of course) and during the last tour I presented an instrumental piece that was 13 minutes long with constantly changing time-signatures, with lots of counterpoint, harmonies, classically influences sections, very soft parts and so on. Some people tried to headbang, but doing so with ever changing time signatures was good cause for whiplash, ha, ha ! It seemed something difficult for fans to digest in a live situation, so we stopped playing it on the tour.
I realise that we have evolved since the beginning and without that evolution (however slight) I would be really bored of the band. Certainly I am not interested in playing the same and the same.
I think there are certain ZEMIAL elements in everything I do, however the greater picture is ever-changing and so it will be for the future as well. Playing "Full Moon Necrophilia" live might be a total blast, but when it comes to writing music, 3 riff-songs can cover some ground perhaps but naturally they cannot cover a wide area of emotions and images. There is still much to be experienced !
The first criterion for ZEMIAL is that I am satisfied with what music that I write at the time I write it. I normally write for 2 guitars, bass, drums and vocals (without counting additional percussion or keyboards) and there is just so much that can be expressed with those instruments individually and as sections. I am open to those possibilities and I definitely want to explore them gradually. Different scales, rhythms, instrumentation, concepts… They are all tools for expression.
||I have to congratulate
you for the new album "In Monumentum". I was astonished to see
a "pagan"-like cover. I feared that ZEMIAL would have turned a
Pagan Black Metal band, but actually except for the lyrics, the musical
part of the album reminds me a lot like "For The Glory Of UR"
with a slight epic touch. What is your view now on this release ?
Thank you. I am glad you like the album. I am not sure why you ‘feared’ that we would have turned into something else (cause many bands just turn the jacket up side down with years –eg). As I told you, I like to constantly change and I really do not think, ‘ok we will be a Thrash band today and a Pagan band tomorrow’. I am not sure exactly what Pagan Black Metal is anyway ! I write what I write and I don’t think of the labels people place on my music. Some people think of "In Monumentum" as a predominantly Heavy Metal album, whilst others find it Black Metal, Pagan Metal and we have even had people think that we are now a right-wing band ! It is incredible how the mind works… Certainly I don’t care how people interpret our music and image. My position has been made clear a thousand times: I write music and evoke images. The music includes a variety of elements and influences filtered through a Heavy Metal approach and my lyrics deal with mythology, fantasy, history, philosophy, etc. As long as you like what you hear then the labels don’t really matter. It is music. I am not passing any hidden messages trying to manipulate the masses, it is just music. For pleasing the mind and soul. Simple.
I view "In Monumentum" as our most mature release so far. It includes a variety of different musical elements, unusual instrumentation, and though it brought ZEMIAL to a new direction, it clearly reflects our past as well. I am still very happy with the album and I still enjoy the compositions. They are simple, yet they have different layers of harmonies and poly/rhythms that are below the surface so to speak. Those details I appreciate most.
I always look back and consider what can be improved and what I will do better in the future, but with this album, I have felt more content than I have with releases of the past.
has "In Monumentum" been recorded ? I mean did you record the
sessions live ? Could you describe your gear as your sound is very personal
All the tracks were layered. It would not have been possible otherwise, because when I went into the studio I only had a couple of riffs and some ideas for song structures nothing more. "In Monumentum" (the title track) for instance, was composed about 2 hours before I recorded it. I had a deadline to meet and the ideas just kept coming. If we were not limited by the tracks we used and the time-restriction, there would have been many more details in this album. Besides, there are multiple lines fin each song, so they could not have been recorded live unless we had a small ensemble in the studio.
We tried to emulate the various stages of Bathory as closely as possible with regards to the equipment used (brands and models), the guitar sounds, the tempi of the songs, the mix balance, the synth sounds,
Here is a list of some of the equipment we used: Gibson Les Paul Standard and MHX guitars through Fender and Woogie amplification; Boss and Lexicon effects, Ovation Elite Custom acoustic guitar, Ibanez 12-string acoustic guitar, Yamaha 5-string Bass through a Peavey amp; Pearl DLX (mahogany & maple) drums; Sonor Designer (thin maple) drums; a Brady Jarrah snare; Remo roto-toms; assort cymbals by Paiste, Sabian, Zildjian, Bosphorus and UFIP; various percussion; Silverfox + Grover sticks and mallets ; various synthesizers and it all went through a small 16-track Yamaha console. We used no outboard effects or processors, so we were limited to the few items available through the console and I think it went really well. The original intention was to produce the album to sound similar to Bathory’s different stages. In fact, it seems we also approached the Bathory production methods in terms of technical limitations. The result is convincing and that is what counts.
I was wondering if "In Monumentum"'
title album is a dedication to the old Italian band Monumentum that released
an awesome debut album ?
Of The Conqueror" and "In Monumentum" have been recorded
in Australia while others older materials were recorded in Greece, what
are the main differences between European and Aussie studios? If I'm not
wrong you always recorded ZEMIAL's album by yourself didn't you ?
That is not correct. Our 7” EP Sleeping Under Tartarus" as well as the demos we between 1989 and 1992 were recorded in Hellas. All other Zemial releases were recorded in Australia.
The country where the studio is located does not affect the sound. The engineer, the rooms and the equipment does. "Face of the Conqueror" and "In Monumentum" were recorded entirely at Eskarth’s studio The Vault. "Necrolatry" was recorded as a 4-track rehearsal at my house. The rest has been recorded in different studios around Adelaide which were all appalling (there was also one recording done in Berlin 1998). After several encounters with ridiculous situations during recording sessions, Eskarth decided to build his own studio which is where we recorded from that time onward.
Yes I always record everything alone, though Eskarth puts the occasional touch. In the last 2 releases he has contributed some solos for instance. Other than that, I normally record a basic guitar track and then record the drums and begin the multi-tracking process.
Monumentum" hasn't got much of promotion in the Metal scene in comparison
to "The Glory Of UR". I got the news by chance going on your
web site but otherwise I wouldn't have seen the new release. Don't you
think that releasing an album on your own was a mistake ? By the way why
didn't you release this album through Iron Pegasus ? Are your relations
with this label altered ?
|"For The Glory of
UR" and "Necrolatry" vinyls are fucking awesome pieces of
Black Metal. These two vinyls are very rare and expensive now. Do you feel
proud of this as now ZEMIAL is considered as a "cult" band ?
Yes, it is a great honour to receive that status from fans. Definitely ! It is the best reward to have your creation appreciated. I make music that inspires me and hopefully affects people in some way. I am not doing this to be “cult” or “necro” or any of that stuff. If it is “cult” then great, if it is not then great again. I am happy.
On Metal-Archives web
site I saw that you recorded a MLP in 1998 "Breath Of The Pestilence"
that was never released, how does it come and how does this vinyl sound
? Will you print it in future ?
could you compare your work in ZEMIAL and Nocternity ? I mean it's a different
Black Metal approach and philosophy, isn't it ?
Entirely different. Night and day as Khal Drogo himself puts it. However, for me that is good, as it is interesting to collaborate with someone that has an entirely different musical approach. We don’t always agree on musical aspects but we agree to disagree as the saying goes.
I feel like Black
Metal fans were a lot into ZEMIAL until you released "Face Of The
Conqueror" MLP. This release is much different from the beginning
and shows a more Heavy Metal side of your band. How has the band evolved
to this MLP ? It's a real shame this MLP didn't get the whole support
from the scene as it really kicks ass, don't you think so ?
is the status of Agatus ? The band hasn't recorded anything new since "The
Weaving Fates" in 2002, so do you have new songs ready for a new full
length ? I feel like ZEMIAL is more Vokskaath's band while Agatus is The
Correct. Agatus is Eskarth’s brainchild. He has prepared a new album which is now in the final pre-production sages and he is looking for a label to release it through. From the pre-production alone I have to say that this sounds like the most impressive Agatus material yet. Agatus always used a great deal of melody and harmony and the new album (tentatively titled: "Of Magic and Fire”) has taken those elements to the next level. There is still the fast aggressive stuff in there but there is much more added to it. I am certainly looking forward to the full project being completed.
Many European bands deal with Nordic
Mythology and bands like Manowar or Bathory really brought Odin and Viking
to the front light of Metalheads. As a Greek with one of the strongest
European mythology how do you see the Nordic one ? How would you compare
both mythologies ? Do you think that now Greece has faded away in the
European Union and isn't as important in main political European decisions
A final close before closing this chapter,
as "In Monumentum" is a bit different from the previous releases,
I would like to know if you have yet an idea of how the new album will