úterý 2. července 2019

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Interview - CEREMONY OF SILENCE - Feedback is our motivation for further efforts.

Interview with Slovak black death metal band CEREMONY OF SILENCE.

Answered Vilozof and Svjatogor, thank you!

Translated by Markéta, thank you!

Questions prepared by Jakub Asphyx. 

Recenze/review - CEREMONY OF SILENCE - Outis (2019):

Ave CEREMONY OF SILENCE! I have to admit that I was really surprised with our last album “Oútis”. When I was sent the album for review by the label Willowtip Records, I did not realize that you are from Slovakia. I do not want to flatter you unnecessarily but I think that with this album you became one of the bands in the world which we have to consider. How did you create the album and when did you think about CEREMONY OF SILENCE? 

Vilozof: Hi, thanks for your words. We are glad that you were nicely surprised by our album “Oútis”. Me and Svjatogor met a long time ago so we were not just two random guys from the street. We tried to make some music spontaneously in just a group of two - just a guitar and drums. We enjoyed that we were able to improvise to any musical sphere. Not only it was enjoyable but it also pushed us as musicians. You could feel the energy. During that I made some changes in my playing. For example, the tunning is more extreme and that turned out to be very inspiring. A lot of interesting riffs came out of this and let's say that also some kind of a style came out of this and we stayed in that style. However, it is important to say that nothing would work if we would not have a vision in our music and when there would not be any sixth sense. This way we created long improvisations which we then recorded, choose the right parts, made them better and started to shape them. In the beginning there was not even a plan to created CoS but the birth of the band just came out of the circumstances. 

CEREMONY OF SILENCE is a new name on the scene but you have been playing for a long time now. You used to play more black metal (ABEY OV THELEMA). Personally, I like more NEVALOTH. How did you work your way to death metal? There is a lot of black on “Oútis” but it is different, more raw and cruel. It is also nicely incorporated into the death metal. 

Vilozof: CoS just borrows some elements from black metal and just as you wrote - we try to incorporate them into death metal base. However, black metal always was and will be in our roots. I always listen to it although now less then before. I started to explore death metal later. Thanks to this it was even more interesting to explore the classic albums of the genre from the perspective of a more mature listener. The music by AoT and later NEVALOTH tended to be avant-garde, but there was always the clear base in black metal. In addition, in those two bands the main writer was Delgrast. After a while I wanted to play something different. And it was also influenced by the bands I listened to. 

I dare to say that it is a dream of every band to get a label like WILLOWTIP RECORDS. You did it. I know that these things often happen because of money or pure luck. However, with you the talent is just unmistakable. You are just different and that is what counts! But this is not enough I think. What do you have to do to get into this kind of a label, nowadays? How did it go with WILLOWTIP RECORDS? Do they have like special conditions for bands? 

Vilozof: Well, you should definitely make a record you will be satisfied by yourself and you have to believe in it. When we had everything recorded we put together a list of labels and we later sent them our album. Willowtip have a clear politics on their website demos. They basically say that you can always send a demo but they will contact you only if they like it. If you are a band that they have never heard before your chances are really low. They instead suggest to put your music online and promote the hell out of it and then, if your music is good, people will start to talk about it...This is on their website till now, even though it is probably not true, thanks to us, haha.

After a few days we got an answer from the head of the publishing Jason Tipton. He said that he really liked our music but he had never worked with an unknown band before. Obviously, nobody knew about us, no social media, even Google had no idea that we existed. We are glad that he went with his guts although it was a huge risk for him. HIs decision was only based on our music and nothing else. We really appreciate such approach.

If this was not enough, I remember that Willowtip was one of the last labels we put on our list. It is great that in the end everything worked out very well. It is an honour for us to be under label here a lot of our idols also started their careers.

Let´s go to the new album. You play a kind of death metal which literally depends on sound. I think you are going to agree with me and you won't mind when I compare your music to GORGUTS, PORTAL. Your riffs would be absolutely confusing and unintelligible without good sound. Where and how did you record, who is signed under the mixing and mastering? Were you able, as a band, to have any comments about the recording? 

Vilozof: We recorded the album in SPK Audio in Badín sound engineer Miroslav Spevák. He also did the mixing and mastering. It was the best decision we could make. We loved working with him and we can only recommend Miro's work. He is a man who has his own know-how, he knows what he is doing and most important thing: he hears things. Once, he also actively played the drums which really helped us with communication about the beats, rhythms and everything related to it. Before the recording we did preproductions and had some rough idea about the sound. But we are no fortune tellers, so we take any good advice. For example, the idea of using echo (reverb) for guitar lines - that was Adam Mičinec´s idea (he is more known as a guitarist/producent in a rock/alternative scene). It worked so well that we put it on the whole album and that is why the album has darker character. We also let Adam arrange the guitars on the song “Upon the Shores of Death” which explicitly offers large space for experimental guitar sounds. I recorded the solos and bass in my place, in my ministudio. Other modulations of guitar sounds were suggested by me and realized by Miro. 

I always enjoy when someone compares us to some big guys. GORGUTS is one of the most innovative and most inspiring bands in this genre for me. Luc Lemay is a man with great charisma not only on the stage and I have a great respect for him. I remember one of his ideas which he said in an interview. He talked about how conventions, scales and rules are not important for him while he composes. The most important for him is the finished product. As they say: “Good advice is better than gold”. 

Having a great sound is good but it is not enough. They say that a cover is what sells an album. Your cover was done by your drummer Svjatogor. I apologize but I do not know his work as an artist. How did he do the cover and what should it express? I like when bands´ covers are original and memorable. And I have to say that your cover is really good. 

Svjatogor: Thank you, I am glad you like our cover. As far as the technical side is concerned, the cover was created by a woodcut graphics technique. Each colour layer was manually engraved into individual wooden matrix from which the resulting graphic was subsequently printed on the paper. finally, the overall colour was still slightly fine-tuned digitally to get closer to the desired atmosphere. But if it is not necessary I do not use digital methods. I want to stay true to the character of the original media. 

The motive itself was in my head for a really long time. It contains several images which are in the lyrics. In the illustrations there are different levels of meanings and emotions. I do not want to tell more because everyone should just listen to it and let it speak itself. 

Let's face it - a good sound and cover should be a necessity. This is the area I am most interested in. I always buy a CD after payday so that is why I do not have the lyrics. The name of the album “Oútis” is catchy. I have to say that even Google did not help me and I only find a quite similar word in Greek which meant “nothing”. Could you please tell us about the lyrics on the album and explain the philosophy of the album? 

Svjatogor: The lyrical concept deals with the mystical path of man, his confrontation with the absolute and at the same time his most hidden inside. His ties with all that he has been are tearing apart, his blood is mixing with the waters in the infinite sea and rising form his own ashes he is coming back to this world to accomplish his will. The name of the album is a transcription of the old Greek word Οὖτις. It can be translated as “nobody” and it is the reference to the individual. This central motive is mixed with other layers and lyrics in their imagery can take on different meanings. 

So far we talked about the sound, cover and lyrics. Those things can be learned (if you have some talent). But the most important is the music. This is what is sometimes forget in our country. Everybody thinks that you can just put some riffs and suddenly you are a hero. I do not want to tell on anyone but when I compare Czech and Slovak albums from the last few years, I see that you went further. Of course it is only my opinion but I would like to know how often do you practise your instruments? Behind all work is a lot of labour and austerity. What about CEREMONY OF SILENCE and work? 

Vilozof: I have to admit that I have never been the type who enjoys the drilling. It was always better for me to learn complete songs. It's more enjoyable to spend time doing that, but sooner or later you jus have to admit that it's not enough. Then there's nothing else, but to find an appropriate exercises and bite into it. Without it, any advancement is just not possible. Now, I have a few routines that I repeat during exercises and I use them as a warm-up before the show. However, I am a normal person and I am not always in the mood. 

Nowadays, it is very difficult to be noticed online. You can do it in two ways - either overwhelm the world with promo material or focus on quality and have a luck. It is nice but without good ideas it does not work. It might be a difficult question but how does your inspiration process work? How do you decide which idea is going to get used first and which doesn´t? I can imagine a poet going by a tram and suddenly writing down some good verses, but how is it with you musicians? 

Vilozof: We work in two ways. The first way are the mentioned improvisations. It is very important for us to have such a spontaneous component in music. The other way is to come up with rehearsals with pre-made guitar ideas and then fine-tune them. That is another aspect of creation when we have more time to think about the music. When we have at least some rough version of the song, I will record a pre-production at home which we will gradually debug until we are satisfied with the result. In this process, it is important to keep some distance from each listening of ideas and pre-production. It usually happens to me that an idea which was really exciting at the beginning, is deleted the next day. And I think I answered your question how do we select our ideas. Of course, the feedback from the rest of the band is very important. 

The poet you talked about has an advantage - he still has his notebook with him. But when a guitar player has an idea, he cannot really put it down in a “tram”. Sometimes, I take a guitar at home and I just record something on my phone, then I maybe edit it somehow. But sometimes I get an ideas somewhere where I don't have such a chance and so the idea is gone… 

Under CEREMONY OF SILENCE are signed Vilozof and Svjatogor and that must be limited on shows. I read somewhere that when you play live there are other two players (hope I got it right - there is Michal the bass player and Neplex the vocalist). Recording of an album is one thing but what about live concerts? Did you have to edit your songs a lot? Even the fact that Vilozof sings on the album I can't imagine how can you manage that since your music is so complicated. Do you perform often? 

Vilozof: It's exactly right. I came to a conclusion that is is impossible to play and sing at once. I admire people who can do it but sometimes it is better not to put up so much and focus on just one thing. From some time we knew that if CoS want to play live we need a vocalist who would do his job “full time”. I remember, after a few beers, that I turn on the raw mix of the record to Neplex. I asked him if he wanted to try. He saw us play before on rehearsals, he liked the material so he did it even though he had to put himself into the right death metal position. He was not used to this since he was only in black metal bands before. He did a great job and thanks to him we are now able to play live and I think that this challenge has moved further as a singer. I did not have to persuade Michal for too long. I let him listen to some material from the studio and he was excited and immediately asked for the tabs and went to learn it. 

The music is primarily written for one guitar with the exception of some passages which were made up with so called “looper” - it is a guitar pedal which allows you to lay your guitar lines over themselves while playing live. Some people might miss the second guitar while listening live but it is a normal thing while you are listening to bands who have only one guitar. It does not look like we will have another guitar player. 

As far as concerts, we only played one concert and you can watch excerpts of it somewhere on YouTube. Of course, we are open to play live, but not at any cost.

CEREMONY OF SILENCE made a great start with the album “Oútis”. But you know how it goes - the first album is more like a taste, just a piece of music which only introduces the band. Are you working on new material and do you want to release it with WILLOWTIP RECORDS again? And let me ask in general - what are your plans for the next few months? What about concerts? Are you going to play in the Czech Republic and abroad? 

Vilozof: We are already working on some new material. We basically have two new songs written, the reproduction of guitar is done we are working on drum parts. I have two other song roughly written at home and I kind of know what to do with them. We do not want to share if our new album will be released with Willowtip. Right now we are still living with the album “Oútis”. 

Thank you so much for the interview and for your music. Always, when I hear similar albums I think how great is the fact that I started listening to black/death metal. I wish CEREMONY OF SILENCE the best in all ways. I wish you a lot of dark inspiration and luck in your personal lives. If there is something you want to share with fans, now is your time! 

Vilozof: Thank you so much for appreciation and good and comprehensive questions. Feedback is our motivation for further efforts.

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