Within a few days the Slovenian band Noctiferia will release their new album 'DeathCulture'. Below you can read the interview we did with Uros and Gianni, two of the band members. They tell you all the things you should know about the band and the new album.
For our readers who are not familiar with Noctiferia, can you please introduce the band shortly to them?
UROS: We started as Noctiferia in 1996 with our first demo. Then in 1997 we had our first concert as opening act for Absu, Enslaved show in Ljubljana and that's when it all started. From then on we knew that we want music to be part of our lives permanently. So in '98 we released first studio recording titled "Baptism at Savica Fall" which was kind of mix of black and death metal, but with some female vocals, flutes and other instruments that were used to create the right atmosphere. After that we recorded "Per Aspera" in 2002 and released it on American Artic Music Group. It was step forward, in vein of Morbid Angel and Emperor. We had an extensive touring all over Europe for that record with Immolation, Malevolent Creation and Marduk and some other bands later on. We also got great reviews and did lots of festivals. After that we recorded "Slovenska Morbida" and got to co-operate with Peter Tagtgren for the first time. This time we wanted to explore the music even further, to explore the boundaries of extreme metal. So we included a lot of samples, electronics, oriental vocals and instruments into our music this time and with the final touch of Peter Tagtgren the record still sounds killer. After releasing "Slovenska Morbida" on German Danse Macabre we had a UK tour as support for Hypocrisy and later European tour with Samael and Keep of Kalessin. So now it's 2010 and here we are with our strongest album to date titled Death Culture on Listenable rec.!
Your 4th album in 12 years, aren't you such fast songwriters?
UROS: There are 2 reasons for this. First of all we are perfectionists. It means that we will not start recording an album if we are not 100% satisfied with the material. Then again we will not leave the studio if we are not really satisfied with the sound or the production either. So all that plus the fact that we come from Slovenia sums up in a pretty long periods between the albums. In our country it's very difficult to find a good studio engineer that knows how the extreme music is recorded. Luckily we found the right guy this time, but again searching for him and all the right equipment, it again takes time. On the top of all that we do our own design, videos and all the other stuff involving the band. So until now we didn't really have a support from the industry we needed but we managed to achieve our goals so far, it just took us a lot more time. From now on we hope to speed up the writing process, because we really got along great with Listenable and they are offering us all the support we need.
How is the writing process for a Noctiferia song anyway?
GIANNI: Well usually is Igor who has all the main riffs, sounds and samples prepared, but all of us contribute to the writing too. We start at our rehearsal place, where we prepare the basic stuff, change things, try new effects, Ideas. For Death Culture I contributed with a couple of songs, Mathias wrote the overture riff for Terror, Uros gave a riff to Delluders and Followers. The next step is preproduction. We have to make preproduction before we go to the studio to define the final changes and to select and deselect stuff we will use later. So we have the basic stuff prepared for the studio, here we keep on working on the arrangements and sounds and can also experiment with new ideas. For Death Culture Uros came with the lyrics concept, so this album is conceptual album and we used Uros stuff, and this is cool for the future as well, because we want to have stuff divided between us so everyone does what is best for the band and we have all the same rights. But we would accept most of Igor's stuff, no matter how bizarre or strange it sounds at the beginning.
How did Noctiferia get a deal with Listenable Records? Was the album already recorded, or did you first get the contract and then record it?
GIANNI: We had the entire album done, you know recorded, mixed and mastered with a video, all the design and artworks and we went with that in the shopping. Actually we did not choose between many labels. We made a short list, but there was only Listenable standing out and we believed in this cooperation even before we signed. It is a third sense or magic or whatever you wanna call it but our management told us months before we signed that it will be Listenable, our first choice. We know Laurent the Listenable chief since 2003 or so, he saw us playing live opening for Malevolent Creation. We were following Listenable all the years. Itís a cool label with cool bands, and they are following us for long time and 2010 is a time to start this great cooperation.
Noctiferia has been a 'strange' band since starters, not easy to label with black or death metal, you even used flutes, who's idea was it to use those 'not metal' instruments?
UROS: Since day one Noctiferia was about atmosphere. And we never doubted about involving other instrumens than guitars, drums and bass into extreme metal. We think that the word extreme itself allows us to experiment and express ourselves in very different, uncovencional or even bizzare ways. We are always using different samples, strings, etno instruments, clean vocals, percussions and other "not metal" instruments to expend our music, to create new layers and textures, to add new dimensions to extreme metal. We are very open minded musicians and we accept quality music and ideas and that shows in our music ...
You hail from Slovenia, is there a big metal audience and are there a lot of metal bands in the underground scene?
GIANNI: The scene is growing a lot you know comparing it to few years back it is a big difference. We got different scenes, from old school and traditional to newer and extreme and generally metal is not a taboo anymore as it was. With Metalcamp things changed in more positive reaction, more and more bands are present. We try to encourage young musicians that it is worth to exercise, play and have your vision. It was never very easy for bands from undeveloped places but it is important that you believe in what you do and keep on doing it.
With your third album 'Slovenska Morbida' you experienced with female vocals, strange instruments and strange sounds. On your new album 'Death Culture' there is not so much of that left, didn't the third album bring what the band expected?
UROS: On "Slovenska Morbida" we were experimenting with electronics, samples, female vocals etc ... and I think that with keeping all those elements in the same amount on the new record, we would be just too limited. We've been there done that! We never do 2 similar albums. I think it's our duty as musicians to progress and explore the music as much as possible. And this time we've put a lot more focus on guitar work and technical demandness of the songs. You will still find samples, keyboards and oriental vocals on this album but they are not here to be in centre of attention, but to fulfil the music. We will always experiment with different sounds, but our core is extreme metal since day one.
Musically I would say that the new album has influences of Dimmu Borgir/Cradle of Filth and Scar Symmetry/Fear Factory, but with big Noctiferia input. What is your opinion about that?
UROS: Pretty hard to say, thanks for cool comparison. We never concetrated on one band or one style of metal. We try to be as open minded as possible so we have a lot more influences than 4 or 5 bands. We like the strong, dark atmosphere from our first record on and you can find it on every album ... so that's the big part of Noctiferia music and I guess you can find some similarities with Dimmu Borgir in that aspect. So later on when we started experimenting with samples and electronics our sound became more mechanical and in combination with strong riffs it can sound similar to Fear Factory or Scar Symmetry, but the main thing is that we never copy anyone and all of our music has big Noctiferia input which is easy to hear. Today to be completly unique is almost impossible. There is a lot more to discover in extreme music, but being completly unique on this journey of discovery is impossible. As far as our influences go, we listen to lots and lots of music like: Morbid Angel, Samael, Dead can Dance, White Zombie ... and million of other great bands!
The album has an intro and an outro with spoken words, is ďDeath CultureĒ a concept album or is there a certain story-line?
GIANNI: Death culture has the whole concept behind. It is about the corruption in the today's life, about secret organizations, lies, negativity, money, greed. Culture and religions and life itself don't have real values anymore. The church is just another money making, multinational corporation that is profiting from foolness of a man! What is the meaning of life today? Why are we so afraid, blind and ignorant that we don't change anything, but we see that everything is wrong?! Those are some of the simplest questions in our everyday life, but there are no easy answers. So people stop searching for solutions and instead they became slaves of the system, system that is Death Culture.
A nice and weird album-cover, what does the band want to express with it?
UROS: Since this album is conceptual, the cover itself is a part of this concept. If you look at the cover it shows a man pointing his hand towards the sun, towards the light, hope, victory ... but his hands are covered in blood. Blood is representing all the sins, evil, narrow-mindness and ignorance of modern man. We are trying to be something more to achieve some kind of meaning in life, but we don't realise that the path we walk is covered in blood and we will not find the light at the end of it, but what we deserve! So the cover combines all the issues that we talk about in our lyrics in very simple and direct way. Its culture of death and everyone is a part of it.
Since the beginning Noctiferia has a kind of cult/underground status, worshipped by the fans, but never really recognized by a bigger audience, do you expect this to change with the new deal and the new record?
UROS: I think it will. Afterall Listenable is one of the leading European metal labels and working with them is a great recognition for us. We were always part of the metal scene but becouse of our origin it was hard to prove to the industry that we are interesting and hard working band even if we come from country without international metal history with bad economy and small population. So now, you will be able to get our cd worldwide and with great promotion that Listenable is offering us I think our name will be heard by the many!
There is nothing wrong with the sound, how did you get in contact with Peter Tagtren?
GIANNI: Man we are so satisfied. Finally! You know we always had some second thoughts about every recording, but this time everything just works. We put a lot of effort to this project, starting with preproduction and you know it is very important how you start the whole project and that you make the right moves in order to have the best possible product in your hands. So for us was very important to record it all properly. We recorded it in Slovenia in DB recording studio. We had enough time to record it well. We spoke with Peter few months before and he already had a vision of how Death Culture should sound. We did not even think about someone else mixing it. We are very grateful Peter takes us between his busy schedules. He worked on Death Culture just between new Immortal and Overkill albums. He knows exactly what he is doing and we trust him 100%. He did some of the best albums like The Abducted which is one of our all times favourite. But we met with Peter years ago at first Metalcamp festival and are friends ever since.
Are there any touring plans for this year?
GIANNI: Yeah man, there are a lot of options and offers we have. We will just have to think right and take most suitable tours. We are not that specific band but we can fit in many different categories. It seems that first tour after the release we do something like 10 dates with Mayhem, but we are planning to play Europe a lot this year, so you should catch us somewhere. We canít wait to hit the road and perform death culture live.
Please name the 5 albums that made your heart beat a little faster.
GIANNI: Ok let's go here. Please understand that this is my current playlist and that it can be very different tomorrow because we listen to so much different stuff, but when I check at my desk there you find.
Candlemass - From the 13th Sun. This is one of the most unknown but the best Candlemass albums without Messiah, with that Bjorn guy on the vocals. This is the best doom you can get. Just the best.
Morbid Angel - Domination. Haven't listened to it for some time and just put it to my stereo this morning... uaa fucking Dominate. The best drums, guitars, vocal-the best MA era.
Kyuss - Aand the Circus Leaves Town. Damn man this is the last Kyuss record. I wish they would make some more albums.
Gojira - The way of All Flesh. Fuckin best band in last few years. Really fresh band. I am so looking forward to do some shows with them.
Immolation - Failures for gods. The best fucking twisted death metal as it should be.
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
UROS: Check out our new album Death Culture! It is very complex record with a lot of layers and different textures where every open minded metal fan will find something for him. Secondly, itís a great combination of different extreme metal styles. We like to call it extreme metal even that some people would not agree with this term. We believe that it is important to combine styles and use different variations, you know different influences. Extreme metal is a part of metal scene, it is a huge world and why should we do something that was done before and not give opportunity to listeners for something new and unique. It is not only about blast beat. It is so much more. Itís one of the freshest metal albums out there with a lot of unique ideas and very well technically executed... And the awesome mix and mastering, meaning great overall sound that fits this record perfectly and it's also very fresh. You will not regret it! Thanx for checking Noctiferia and all best to Danish metal community.
Interviewed by Reinier de Vries