Hallucinatory Black Death
Last year was a good starting point for several interesting bands, but one of the best, which blew it away with full force, has certainly been Irish MALTHUSIAN. The band composed of members of various, mainly Death / Doom bands, has released a demo with a standard 'MMXIII' title and the big surprise was born. They began to be known in the underground and many fans were eager to get their celluloid tape, already announced in advance by Invictus Productions, this happened in November 22 last year. Critics have been very positive, of course, even I could not resist and gave them honest ten points, who knows that demo, he certainly knows what I mean. If everything goes as it started, it is possible their name will be stronger than the original bands they play in as well. The first press is already sold out and now in these days the second press is getting out. So enjoy this interview, we are starting this year completely sharply!
Hell-o, could you first reveal why have you formed MALTHUSIAN? Each of you come from different band…how did you actually meet? Do you take the band just as a project or as a regular affair?
'MB and JK got together over two year ago to see if they could come up with something of merit and with an eye on creating some sort of Death Metal that they felt was lacking in the local scene. After a number of rehearsals they felt that they had something worth pursuing further and drafted in AC and PG to flesh out the sound. This saw a slight shift in focus from a more typical DM approach into something a little bit less easy to categorize, with Black and Doom elements finding their way in. That vile trinity worked well and so we carried on with it allowing the songs to take their own shape as they progressed.
The Irish Metal scene is quite small so we all knew each other to varying degrees through our other bands. I think it is safe to say that this band has grown into something more than just a project and we intend to take it as far as possible.'
You come mostly from Death / Doom / Funeral bands. Why have you decided to play this mad hallucinogenic Death / Black Metal?
'It feels natural. These elements all came together instinctively as we were assembling the songs and we were all satisfied that they fit together quite well. It makes no sense to eliminate something that we feel works out of some sense of purity; we would prefer to try to find a sound of our own within those blurry boundaries. We have certain restrictions and we all know when something doesn't fit but we are all open minded enough to feel comfortable experimenting as well. It is all on our own terms. We will decide what is or is not fitting for Malthusian and others are free to either agree or disagree.'
Your debut stuff 'MMXIII' caused upheaval in the Underground scene and the reviews have been very positive, this is one of the best demos, or releases of last year also to me. Have you expected such a positive response? Have you even got some explicitly critical reviews or reactions?
'So far all of the reviews we have read have been very positive. It has been flattering and encouraging but we were confident in the quality of the songs we recorded so we felt we could stand behind the demo whether people liked it or not. We didn't know how it would be received, you never can, but we also felt that we had a strong set of songs and we were optimistic that the critical underground would recognize that.'
Could you describe songwriting process in MALTHUSIAN? Who brings the initial ideas and how is everything tuning?
'The song-writing process is unpredictable. The first three songs, ie. the songs on the demo, took a while to come together. We had a lot of riffs worked out but we laboured over every aspect to make sure that while each song has a lot of different elements, they still sounded unified. That demanded a lot of critical analysis on our behalf. We took our time and made sure that we had every aspect nailed before taking to the stage and going in to record. On the other hand, the fourth song that we recorded, which will be released as a split 7" in May, came together much more quickly. The parts just all flowed and sat together quite easily so we were happy to not over-labour it. The song introduces some new elements, or maybe it expands and re-imagines certain elements that are already present on the demo. It will be interesting to see what people make of it.'
What does music composition mean to you? Do you think of composition, how to combine riffs to sound it naturally, or it comes from you spontaneously as an inevitable process of composing? Often I am faced with many bands just sticking riff to riff to create mosaic or just any show of the riffs.
'Coming up with good riffs is only half the battle. If they don't work together then they lose their potency. Sometimes having a jarring change makes perfect sense but sometimes it sounds like complete shit and that is up to the composer to determine. It is something you just feel when you rehearse. This is the main reason that we took so long about getting the songs together. While we had most or all of the separate parts written for a while we spent a lot of time chopping and changing various parts until we felt that the structures flowed and had the most impact. With any music we write in future we will employ the same level of scrutiny to ensure that we maintain as high a standard as possible.'
Personally, I find your music is quite original, not in the sense you would have created something entirely new, but in the sense it is difficult to compare you to someone, something. What does originality mean to you?
''Thank you, that is exactly what we were aiming for. We had no intention of reinventing the wheel when the band was developing. It seemed more logical and appropriate to build on various aspects of the music styles we chose and hopefully add our own character and identity to that. We have our influences for people to pick out if they so wish but we aspire to be seen on the same level as the bands that we respect as opposed to being seen as a cheap carbon copy. We all have a lot of experience in playing some form of ugly obscure Metal so hopefully we have developed some characteristics that we can claim as our own at this point. Originality can mean many things but the originality that we are concerned with is the originality of taking something sacred like DM/BM/Doom and putting our own unique stamp on it.'
Could you disclose what influences are essential for MALTHUSIAN? Whether musical or non-musical ones, what all inspires you to make your music sound like it sounds?
'Our influences are undeniably there but we aren't too interested in pointing them out to people. Other than various bands or music styles pretty much anything is likely to inspire the creative side of our minds once we remain open and inquisitive. That might be an age thing and down to us all having some experience with writing for other bands and developing our own creative personalities. Anything from literature, history or poetry to film and fine art can cause the creative mind to jolt into life but also study and work can feed the imagination too. The world is an intriguing and often brutal place so inspiration is all around, it is a matter of viewing your experiences through the prism of the music or art you create that turns the banal into something more profound.'
As your style has been described as hallucinatory Death / Black Metal, someone may think you need some altered states of consciousness using drugs for inspiration and composition. What do you think about this?
'When we use the word hallucinatory to describe the music we are referring to a sense of unease, mystery and sensory disintegration that we try to invoke through the layering of riffs that maybe shouldn't quite work together. In terms of the use of drugs, every member of the band will have their own views on that. How the listener optimizes their experience of our music is out of our hands.'
Where have you recorded 'MMXIII' demo? Have you known already in advance what sound you want to achieve? How have you actually been forming your sound? Was it evident already in rehearsal room recording your own demo samples? Do you think you have already defined your sound?
'We recorded the demo in Sun Studios in Dublin with Ola Ersfjord, who has since moved back to Sweden. We had an idea of what we wanted the demo to sound like but, of course, the studio environment is always going to be different to the rehearsal room which will have some effect. We met up with Ola a couple of times before we went into the studio and he came to a jam to get an idea of what we were about so we were prepared to some degree and we are more than happy with the results. It is impossible for us to say if we have defined our sound yet as we are too close to the music but that is our goal as a band and it is what we will strive to achieve for as long as the band exists.'
Are you the type of band that created the first recording and now you will stick to what you've already created, or you have the visions and you see you will move forward? Thus, progress or orthodoxy?
'We are definitely an inquisitive band but we also respect certain boundaries and in that sense we are most likely to continue to combine a sense of progression and weirdness with elements that are more traditional. Being completely off the wall loses its impact very quickly, it is important to utilize identifiable and memorable riffs as well. Being chaotic simply for the sake of it would get very boring indeed and it is a bit of a cop-out when writing powerful riffs that lodge in the memory can often be more of a challenge.'
Ok, that would be all from me, thank you for the interesting interview and wish MALTHUSIAN lot of inspiration from your rich subconsciousness, thanks again for answering my questions.
'Thank you for your interest.'
Malthusian 6. 2. 2014 Mortuary