středa 26. srpna 2020

Home » , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , » Interview - CONQUEST ICON - Hellish black death metal from Poland!

Interview - CONQUEST ICON - Hellish black death metal from Poland!

Interview with death metal band from Poland - CONQUEST ICON.

Answered Andy and Ronve, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Recenze/review - CONQUEST ICON - Empire of the Worm (2020):

Ave CONQUEST ICON! I'm just listening to your new album "Empire of the Worm" and I have to say that it's great in all its bearings! Dark, cold, moldy, exactly like death metal record should be. This is your second album. I did some research on the internet, but I couldn't find any interview with you in some Czech webzine. Could you please introduce the band to our readers and guide us through its history? 

Andy: Hi Jakub! Thank you very much for having us on your zine and for your kind words about our album, really appreciate that. And yes, you’re right – we previously haven’t had the opportunity to be in any Czech magazine/webzine. Thanks for changing that. 

Conquest Icon was founded back in 2009 by Empherion (Empheris) and myself with Imp (Saltus) as guest drummer. Initially it was supposed to be one time project, but when we have recorded “Hellspire”, our debut album, we decided to continue with it – damn, we enjoyed too much writing and recording that material to just leave it behind. 

First lienup was: Empherion – vocals, Andy Blakk – guitars/vocals, Blast! – bass, Major – guitars, Th0rn – drums. 

Due to personal issues and other commitments Th0rn left the band and we have asked Imp to help us with drums on “We Are The Ancients”, 5-way split we did with other bands we were involved at that time (Empheris, Purifier, Conquest Icon, Wraith, Necroist). Empherion left the band right after recording this split, as he had other priorities and was planning to move out from Warsaw. He recommended Ronve as his replacement. 

So, long story short – current lineup, since 2013, is: Andy Blakk – guitars and vocals, Blast! –bass, Imp – drums, Major – guitars, Ronve – vocals.

Between the first full-length record „Hellspire“ from 2010 and this new record is 10 years. Why so long? Was it caused by your musical activity also in other bands? Or everything is only about the time, money and ideas? 

Andy: Well… it was caused by permanent lack of time. Some of us had new kids, so we had to focus on families. Then Blast! (bassist) and I took a crazy decision to go back to studies after 15 years of a break. That was really crazy, especially in conjunction with new kids which were just born, you know… There were months when we couldn’t find any weekend where we could meet in band practice room. Crazy! But I think it was the right time to do it. 

At that point we decided that we will work on new stuff remotely. I was writing music and sending it to the guys for opinion and inputs. At the beginning I was using drum machine, but since I am not a drummer the patterns were extremely simple. That impacted lots of stuff I wrote – due to simple drum machine patterns it sounded so weird that we didn’t like it. 

It took a while to get to the point where we all were fine with demo tracks. I think it was late 2017 when Imp and I got back to practice room and started to put all tracks together with real drums. 

Well, that’s the past now. We’re back to practice room, we started to work on new album already and I hope that coronavirus situation won’t mess around with our plans…

Let’s talk about the new record "Empire of the Worm". At first listening, your sound swept me away. It is powerful, dense, and at the same time raw and rough. Your guitarist and singer Andy Blakk took care of it. I must pay tribute to him. I like Polish bands very much, but sometimes they seem to sound very similar. However, YOU are different, more "American," I would say. How and where did you record the album? 

Andy: Thank you for your kind words. I like the sound of that album, as well. I am not fan of modern sound of death metal – it’s too clean, to sterile, to polished… I wanted this album to sound dirty, rich of low frequencies, unpolished. 

We have recorded it in few places – mainly due to time issues. We couldn’t take week off from work at that time, so we just divided sessions into smaller pieces. Drums and first guitar parts were recorded at JNS Studio with Paweł Grabowski. It was first time we recorded there, but I liked working with Paweł, as well as the overall atmosphere was great. Vocals were recorded at NAD Studio. It’s interesting studio as it’s mainly dedicated to hip-hop, but we like to record there. We did vocals for “Hellspire” and “We Are The Ancients” in NAD Studio together with Zbigniew Sarnowski. Since he don’t usually work with that type of music he has unique ideas and approach to record it. Rest of guitars and bass lines were recorded at my home studio. I think recording in multiples studio gives some diversity to sound, as well. 

We have started with drums in June 2018, then we did first guitars in January 2019, vocals in July 2019, and rest of guitars and bass in September 2019. Recording session was really stretched over time due to all work related issues and commitments. Well, I think this is how we will work in future, as well.

I'm a fan of black and white packaging and the one from Ihasan at your new record is great. I really admire his works for AZARATH, OUTRE, DEUS MORTEM, VOIDHANGER, RITES OF DAATH, but the cover art for your new album is one of his best works. How did you get together with him, why did you choose him and what does exactly the cover art explain, how does it relate to the music or lyrics? 

Andy: Well, most of us know each other, either in real life or virtually. Also, Ronve and Ihasan are good friends for a while and they meet at least once per year for mountain hiking. When we started to work on new album we decided that it would be a good opportunity to change the logo, as well. It is not the same band as it was when we recorded “Hellspire”. Not only line-up have changed, but also lyrics and the whole concept for lyrics. So, we asked Ihasan to draw a new logo for us, he agreed and did it. I wanted to have more classic logo so we got one. It’s as classic as it can be, haha. We really liked his work so it was obvious for us to choose him for a cover, as well. Cover shows The Worm… forgive me such short answer, but I think everyone will find something different in it and will interpret it in different way. I don’t want to impose an interpretation. Ihasan did a great job, indeed. And we will work with him for new album, as well. 

Concerning the lyrics, your new album does not deviate in any way from classical themes such as darkness, death, destruction. That's all right and it fits your music perfectly. But could you tell us where you take your inspiration for the lyrics? Do you read any books, do you watch movies? What are the lyrics at "Empire of the Worm" about? 

Andy: Lyrics on “Hellspire” and split were quite different and focused on dark science-fiction, as Empherion and I really liked that topics. When Ronve joined us I knew he wasn’t really into sci-fi, so it was natural that lyrics would need to change. I don’t think he would do good job on recording lyrics he didn’t feel or understand and I didn’t wanted to push for it. But, let’s have Ronve answering this questions, as he wrote most of the lyrics on this album. 

Ronve: In fact, the subject of the lyrics may seem like Death Metal standards, but it's hard for me to sing about flowers, broken love or baking bread, hahaha. This is Death Metal and I think that the subject of this genre must move within specific thematic frames. A lot of things inspire me while writing, they are often books, life around me, everyday news, but also the music itself created by my bandmates, I listen to a given track and its aggression or climate gives me some ideas, the title is born, then the text. This time the texts are varied. Two were written by Andy Blakk and this is his look at what is happening in our fucked up world, the crap that surrounds us. In the case of my texts, we are dealing with settling accounts with the life of a warcrimer, with a religiously fanatical man who gives his life on behalf of his faith in the Devil, with my dislike of humanity, with my philosophy of what Unholy Death Metal should be like and with "seasonal" fans metal, dark dreams etc. Certainly they are not confused, I think that in Death Metal with simple, aggressive music the lyrics should also be a fist in the face of the listener. As for books and films, books certainly have an impact on my texts, as I am a trained historian, I read a lot of this type of literature. Diaries, biography, I am inspired by the psychology of people, why they did something, for what and how they feel about it. Yes, movies can be inspiring and once I wrote a few texts based on a few dark movies, for example "Pi", "Mullholand Drive", unfortunately recently nothing inspired me enough to write a text about it. The music of other bands can also be inspiring, stimulating the mind to its own visions.

When I was fifteen, socialism in our country was obviated and the market opened up. The Polish scene has influenced me a lot in my life. To this day, I am a big fan of VADER, LOST SOUL, TRAUMA, GORTAL, AZARATH and many other bands. I would say that your scene was, and in fact still is, a “reference sample” for us. But is this still the truth? Is Poland really strong in death metal even today? I'm just saying that your situation reminds me a little of ours. A good new band emerges here and there, but most musicians are old metal dogs. The younger musicians are already moving in a slightly different direction. What is the current death metal scene in Poland and how do you perceive it? 

Andy: I think we still do pretty well when it comes to death metal. Just to give few names – Embrional, Azarath, Stillborn, Imperator, Neolith, Eternal Rot (well, they are based in UK, but musicians are from Poland, so I think we can count band as Polish) and obvious one, such as Vader. And you’re right – all of these bands I mentioned have, as you stated, some old dogs on board… When it comes to younger generation – there are Clairvoyance are Incinerator, which both are very worth to check out. There’s one more band I’d like to point out – Warsaw’s Truchło Strzygi. Guys are in their early 20s or so. They play a mixture of black metal and punk, which sounds really weird, but just give them a try and listen to them. It’s a tribute to metal from eighties and it just kicks in very well. 

I saw several CONQUEST ICON live videos from the concert on YouTube and it was always a real, unadulterated hell. I would like to see your live show sometime, but you probably only perform in Poland or am I wrong? Did you organize some tour, for example? My question actually goes to Czech promoters, I could imagine you at some of our metal festivals. Would you come? 

Andy: Damn, we haven’t played live for really long time! And it’s all the same story – lack of time. But all concerts we have played were full of energy and we always gave our best. If we would get invitation to some festivals we would do our best to come and play for you guys! It would be great.

As a fan, I would characterize CONQUEST ICON's music as dark, devastating death metal. As I mentioned before, your music meets American bands in many points. But tell me, which bands influence you the most? What bands do you adore and admire? And who was your favorite musician/band when you started playing? 

Andy: I think it’s because American bands made a biggest impression on me when I had my first contact with death metal. Gosh, I don’t remember now when I had first contact with metal (heavy metal) in general. I think it was 5th grade of primary school. Doesn’t matter, though. My colleague lent me a tape of Iron Maiden (The Number of the Beast). It was the very first time I have heard that type of music and I immediately loved it! I explored different genres of that music and one day I got Deicide ‘Deicide’ album in my hands and it was the turning point for me. I started to check other bands from Florida, such as Morbid Angel or Obituary and then got my hands on Cannibal Corpse, Incantation and Immolation. All these bands made huge impression on me and influenced me a lot. And they still influence me. 

I adore many bands and styles. I would say, it’s a full spectrum, from hard rock to brutal death metal and completely unrelated stuff, such as dark ambient. Iron Maiden. It all started with this band. King Diamond/Mercyful Fate. David Bowie. Judas Priest. Ramones. Sodom. Possessed. Napalm Death. Morgoth. Necrophagia. Celtic Frost. Demolition Hammer. Cannibal Corpse. Pungent Stench. Marduk. Immolation. Venom. Bathory. Damn, I could list tons of names here, so let me stop. 

What was my favorite bands when I started to play? I think it was Napalm Death and Carcass back then. I still like Napalm Death, but when it comes to Carcass I can listen to first two albums only. 

It’s a long time since I exceeded forty years old, I experienced death metal in its best years. It used to be a beautiful time. The 1990s were great. The world opened up to us, I was young. I'm gray-haired now, but I still support and collect death metal. I belong to the old generation. But I would not like to drown in nostalgia, rather tell me what the present time has brought to you (as to musician or as to band)? I mean the use of new technologies, sound, recording options, the Internet, etc. 

Andy: I am more than 40 years old, as well, so I can relate to that. Well, I have some nostalgia for tape trading, for sending and receiving hand-written letters and so on… But that’s part of the past and let it stay there. Technology definitively helps us, not only as musicians, but also as a band. I am able to record demo tracks on my PC at home and share them with other band members via internet. It simplifies a lot of things. It’s also a great medium to reach new people – we’re on Spotify, Amazon, Tidal, etc. And recording options are almost unlimited. Damn – with tools like Superior Drummer and good samples you could create a drum track which would sound like it would have been recorded by real musician (I have tried it but since I am not a drummer the outcome wasn’t impressive). Software can emulate amps, cabinets, microphones, room size and conditions and difference between analog and digital quality of sound is getting smaller. 

As I have already written, I am interested in the Polish scene and watch it carefully, but maybe I missed something. Is there a record, or a band from recent years that you really enjoy, did you buy their CDs and support them? Please give us some names and support your colleagues in the weapon. 

Andy: There are many records I really enjoy, some of them are older, some are still fresh. When Embrional ‘The Devil Inside’ was released I wasn’t really convinced to it. And then with each listening I enjoyed it more and more. And then they released ‘Evil Dead’ which I liked from the very beginning. Eternal Rot did very interesting ‘Putridarium’ which was released earlier this year. A doomy, sludgy death metal. And give a try to new Uerberos album ‘Stand over Your Grave’. Of course, make sure you check out Truchło Strzygi I mentioned earlier.

Where does CONQUEST ICON want to go in the future? I firmly believe that we will not wait another 10 years for the next record. I will be 56 and I will slowly start preparing for retirement. What are CONQUEST ICON preparing in the upcoming months? 

Andy: Ha! No, no worries – new album will be recorded much earlier than in 10 years. I promise. We already started to write new stuff already. For now, we are waiting to see how coronavirus situation will be in Poland. We have two concerts planned for October, when we will play with Ancient Rites, and I do hope these concerts will take place. And for future? Well, we do what we love to do, so we will keep doing it as long as we will have fun. And I think we will, for many years to come. 

Thank you very much for the interview. I wish to the new album the best possible sales, full clubs and good luck in your personal lives. Have a nice day everyone! 

Andy: Thank you for having us on Deadly Storm zine and your support and for this interesting interview. All the best for you and all metals fans in Czech Republic. I hope we will come to your country and play some gigs. 

Recenze/review - CONQUEST ICON - Empire of the Worm (2020):

sledujte nás na sociálních sítích - follow us on the social media:



Share this games :