Canadian forests around Montreal, Quebec State in Canada, gave birth to an interesting Death Metal tomb under the name of SHEZMU. Of course the band does not play some dull and boring Death Metal, as is usual today, otherwise we would not care about them. Their music works with a strong mystical atmosphere, drawing on Egyptian mythology, in their recordings I find the necessary darkness, ugly smiles of immortal rulers lying in the tombs, but also the power of witchcraft spells. The band consists of two members, C.L. is a drummer and C.B. guitarists and vocalists in one. They were formed in 2016 and their current discography contains "Demo I" ´17, and two EPs "The Scent of War" ´18 and "Breaching The Tomb" from the same year. These materials engulfed me as if I was in a sandstorm and suddenly found myself in a stormy eye, and tons of sand swirled around me, finding myself in a time when the Sun was God. I really feel very uncomfortable listening to their EPs, the chills on my neck and hands are unmistakable evidence something really strange is happening. But more in the SHEZMU interview, C.B. (vox, guit) has the word.
Your band name is derived from the ancient Egyptian SHEZMU deity. Why have you chosen just this name? Does it have a deeper meaning and connection to the overall concept in which you are immersed? It must be acknowledged you have chosen a rather original name and many bands with such a title are hard to find...
When I first started the project it was called Isthar's Womb (or Womb of Isthar). A deity name was always in line for the band, we knew we wanted to go into an 'antiquity era' theme. With some research on different mythologies, we stumbled across 'Shezmu' which represents blood, wine, slaughter and oils. We knew we couldn't go wrong with that type of description. Civilizations such as the Egyptian, the Romans, the Greeks and ancient Mesopotamia are still one of our main source of inspiration for the band.
Could you reveal what led you to form SHEZMU? Many bands get together only for fun, or they just want to play a certain Metal style and sound like any bigger band. Do you remember the moment you knew SHEZMU would be your new band?
My love for different, yet weird black and death metal bands pushed me to create this project. I wanted a band that sounded like Incantation had an orgy with Bolzer, Necros Christos and Pseudogod. I am mostly influenced by older bands but for Shezmu I decided to went for the path of originality.
With full respect, I must say that while listening to your first "The Scent of War" EP, I had strange and very unpleasant feelings. I have them at every listening experience, in the review I even used the term "danger listening". The production, the sound, the harmony character, the atmosphere, all this is so monstrously scary to me and I listen to the extreme Metal from the '90s. How did you manage to create such an authentic and dense atmosphere?
Well, thank you. The goal of the demo was definitely to bring up the weirdness of it. I was in a huge kick of raw sound at the time, which explains the big '90s raw tin can' production of the demo. The addition of harmonizer on the lead parts, reverb in the guitar and the tape-distorded drum sound are responsible for the result.
Second "Breaching The Tomb" EP has a strange, dense atmosphere with strange harmonies and special production as well. How do you rate this material now? Personally, I feel you have penetrated deep enough into the interior of dark art and you have drawn ugly details into the devil's whole. Has anyone told you that your music is different, strange, original? Is originality important to you?
I would say that the compositions of Breaching The Tomb are our best material released, though we are a little bit unsatisfied with the production we went for. We wanted the EP to sound different so we went for a half-and-half production of raw and polished. With some setback, I believe we should have went all the way polished and atmospheric. I also regret not adding bass on that MLP.
We recently got a bassist, Yan Tremblay-Simard who used to play in a local doom band called Aiauasca. The kind of band that destroys your ears when you see them live because of all the low-end they had. When we started jamming with Shezmu with him, I immediately understood that I underestimated the option of a bass for the band. It was all too late anyway because Breaching The Tomb was already released and pressed as a duo.
We often get comments that our music is different, which is extremely important to us. We don't want to sound like any other death or black metal bands. Originality and the craft of our own sound is definitely our quest.
Are you inspired by many factors while writing songs to achieve a strong and inimitable atmosphere that is probably the real key to your art? Does everything come only from the books you read and the life you live? Do you also get inspired by the special places you visited or the dreams or unusual experiences you could experience while traveling anywhere?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, but it usually comes in bursts of energy. Sometimes I can watch a documentary, read a book, listen to a podcast and it triggers me a lot of inspiration. Other times I can't write a single riff in weeks.
I would say that jazz also play a big role in Shezmu, artists like Dollar Brand, Duke Ellington and Wayne Shorter have so many 'evil sounding' parts to their songs, you have no idea how metal jazz can get.
For sure 'The Scent of War' and 'Breaching The Tomb' are mostly inspired by ancient egyptian culture. Though our recent material for our upcoming full-length ''A Travers Les Lambeaux'' is more personal, which is also why the album in 100% in French, my first language.
How do dreams and sleep disturbances affect you? Have you ever had sleep paralysis, or nightmares which you could not get over? Have you seen shadow people or black beings during these states? Do these experiences underwhelm you or you attribute to them a deeper context that can inspire you at writing music?
Being someone that constantly does nightmares I would say that it definitely affects my play-style and song-writing process. It puts you in a state of mind where you can experiment deeply into the music. Sleep paralysis I don't enjoy so much, I just feel trapped and exhausted when I wake up from it.
Your dominant theme and special concept is Egyptian mythology. Why did you choose just this topic? Have you ever visited Egypt and if so, what impression has it left on you? Do you think the knowledge of many areas the Egyptians have acquired could only come from their own experiences? Isn't it a little strange that such an old civilization has known such deep things that from today's point of view it may seem astronomically impossible?
The difference with today is that people used to live with some 'magick' in their lives. Not understanding everything, there was always this queston of faith or 'magick' involved. Either it was an issue of a success, it was often refered to the gods will. Just to understand that, also makes you aware that these people used to see the world very differently from today.
All the knowledge and science of today is a gift, for sure, but it also keeps human spirituality and thoughts locked of our own minds. That makes the world a little bit more depressing and neutral. I believe that is why I decided to go down the path of the ancient civilizations and culture - to free my mind of my current point of view.
What was the impression left on you by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was originally called the Book of the Dead Man? Do you draw out of these texts in the lyric of SHEZMU? Have you ever tried to compare this book with other books of the dead that describe the journey of the soul after death? Is it not strange that across ages and different civilizations around the world, which at that time could not communicate with each other, their knowledge is somewhat similar?
I did look into the Book of the Dead for some inspiration but not that much to be honest. The similarities with other civilizations is probably just human, I do believe it is in our nature to create sense out of life and death and these similarities are probably where we all connect with each other.
Which evil or good Egyptian deity, or demon, or evil spirit has the deepest meaning for you? Have you tried to perform some rituals of Egyptian magic anymore?
Gods and demons, they don’t have much meaning to me. I believe that spirituality is found through each other. The human spiritual link is stronger that we know, we just couldn’t find a way to exploit it globally yet.
Egyptians strongly believed in the afterlife and gave it a deep meaning. How do you perceive death in person? Have you ever passed the boundaries of life and death for a short time? Do you believe that we have been imprisoned in our reality for some time and then we are returning to the shadows world from where we may have come? Do you think we return to life cyclically as described in Buddhism or Hinduism?
I believe that the body is a vessel and the soul is our true-self. Death is inevitable and also a doorway to another vessel, another story. So yes, I do believe in reincarnation but maybe not in the official boundaries that religions offer us. I like to keep my mind open to changes and questioning. This is just a belief that keeps on changing all the time.
Do you perceive your music as metaphysical? If so, could you explain it more?
As I mentioned before, I believe that human beings have a spiritual bond. So yes, I believe that music, just like any other form of creation is metaphysical. It is what resonates from the artist to everyone else, a gateway that lives through all of us.
Last special question. How do you like the latest stuff from Morbid Angel, Nile and Nocturnus?
I am not a big fan of Nile even though Shezmu got compared a lot to them, probably because of the Egyptian theme. The new Nocturnus is pretty great, I love how the songs still have that ‘The Key’ vibe. As for Morbid Angel, I haven’t listened to anything passed their classics.
C.B. 15.6.2019 Mortuary
Breaching the Tomb