Inside the Hellenic death machine. Interview with Dead Congregation
In their short existence Dead Congregation have amassed the adoration of both critics and fans alike. Having wowed the Noizr team at the Brutal Assault festival, we caught up with the group’s leader A.V. (guitars, vocals) to get a glimpse into one of the bands helping to breathe life back into death metal from its stagnant and exhausted existence.
First things first when can we expect a new album from you guys?
A.V.: We’re definitely working on new material but it’s hard to say when we’ll be ready to record a full album. Not this year.
The evolution of your sound from "Graves of the Archangels" to "Promulgation of the Fall" and "Sombre Doom", whilst still maintaining the density and sense of imposing doom the atmosphere of these latter releases was definitely increased. Was this a conscious decision and if so do you anticipate the intensity in atmosphere to increase in your newer works?
A.V.: The songs in "Sombre Doom" are older than the material in "Promulgation of the Fall", considering they had a different vibe than the album – more imposing as you accurately said – we decided to give them a special release and therefore appeared on the EP exclusively. As for the new material, it will be more direct than ever. So far the new songs are all relatively short in duration and more savage in style so the intensity is definitely increased.
The sound of Dead Congregation is undeniably rooted in classic death metal, yet it has been developed into something deeper and darker, what do you believe is the primary cause for this?
A.V.: It’s not intentional, we just write music following the creative drive that flows from within. Death metal was always meant to be dark, aggressive and ominous anyway.
Similar to your musical roots, lyrically your works have commonality with traditional Death Metal, however, there is an obvious Satanic leaning within, A.V. & T.K. I know the majority of lyrics are written by yourself, is there a particular author, sect or group that you are influenced by Satanism?
A.V.: We can relate to parts of many doctrines but we filter everything through our personal interpretation without following any specific sect. Freedom of will and thought is more important than being a blind follower of any religion.
Have your Greek roots had an impact on your Satanic beliefs? I refer particularly to the Prometheus story, an analogue many see of Lucifer/D'eosphoros.
A.V.: As much as we admire our heritage and ancient culture I don’t think we’ve been influenced by it, not consciously anyway.
How much of a motivation is Satanism to you as a band?
A.V.: We don't like to focus much on talking about ideology and imagery. Today's scene has too many bands that rely on that to make an impact simply because musically they have nothing to offer. We prefer to get people's attention with the power of our music instead of making ourselves look interesting through an intellectual and philosophical approach.
You have the fortune of being one of the few bands that have had a release on the prestigious Norma Evangelium Diaboli label. How did this relationship begin? I know MKM has written some lyrics for you in the past and he has strong ties to the label — was that an instigating factor?
A.V.: We’ve been in touch with Norma Evangelium Diaboli for more than 10 years, since we’ve admired their dedication to releasing quality over quantity and we’ve had a mutual friend (namely Timo Ketola) that was a connecting link between us. NoEvDia was already interested in us in 2008 but they wanted to hear the album before offering a deal and back then we needed someone to fund our recordings so we decided to release "Graves of the Archangels" with Nuclear War Now who indeed offered a generous recording budget. On our second album, there wasn’t much negotiation between us and them, we simply asked if they’re interested and the answer was affirmative, agreeing on the terms was very easy as they’re a serious label that stands behind its’ artists with dedication and determination. Our communication is impeccable and we’re truly honored to be a part of their roster.
As well as Dead Congregation you guys also have your own label (Martyrdoom Productions), what was the motivation behind starting your own label?
A.V.: We didn’t feel comfortable with other labels owning the rights to our material.
The groups you've signed have a similar tonality to yourselves, do you plan to build the label's roster and if so do you want to specialize in bands that share a similar methodology to yourselves?
A.V.: The label only releases recordings that have a personal appeal to us so it’s inevitable that some of the bands might have a similar approach to Dead Congregation. There are no restrictions in terms of sound though, if we like a band we will sign it even if it sounds completely different from anything else. That said, I need to add that we don’t aspire to making the label big and we’re completely uninterested in keeping a high flow of releases per year, our main focus will always be Dead Congregation.
You re-released Infester’s seminal "To the Depths, in Degradation" last year, how did this come about? And what is it about this record that you felt you had to get recognized again since it’s '94 debut?
A.V.: I’ve been in touch with their drummer Dario for quite some time and even released an album for his previous band Drawn and Quartered. Infester is a very original and twisted band that deserved to get more attention, that’s all.
Going forward what do you hope to achieve long-term with Dead Congregation, how close to your initial vision of the band have you realized? Has anything changed in your motivations with the group since its inception?
A.V.: We have already achieved a lot more than we ever expected by gaining a lot of recognition, being able to spread our material to a wider audience than we ever anticipated and by playing live shows all over the world. Our only goal has always been to create the music we want and present it the way we want with no compromise. As long as we’re able to fulfill our creative hunger by composing death metal as we perceive it, our mission as artists is done. Everything else is just a bonus.
Noizr: Follow Dead Congregation on Facebook and Bandcamp.
Interview by Dan Thaumitan