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Interview - REDEMPTOR - Dark, magical, technical death metal with a bloody aura!

Interview with death metal band from Poland - REDEMPTOR.

Answered vocalist Michał "Xaay" Loranc, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Recenze/review - REDEMPTOR - Agonia (2021):

Hail REDEMPTOR! Greetings to Poland. And I have to thank you right away, because your new album "Agonia" became my guide for a long time. I love to come back to it and keep discovering new and new dark corners. How did the album come about and where did you want to go from your last, equally good record "Arthaneum" (2017)?

Thank you very much Jakub! We're really grateful for your kind words and support! That's the one of the biggest compliments to hear, that the listener wants to dive deeper into the music, and to search some more for less striking layers of the composition... That was also main reason why we altered the "Arthaneum" formula a little bit. Former album brought more maturity and built some solid ground for further work. Now we are back with more atmospheric, story-telling music, which brings more feelings and stimulates imagination. "Arthaneum" had more philosophical-related, existential content, while "Agonia" is definitely something which you can feel with your senses, like real stories and real imagery.

When you went into the studio to record the new album, did you know what sound you wanted? I really like the coldness and darkness that you can feel from the record. The instruments are beautifully legible and at the same time everything is incredibly massive, restless, cutting. Where did you record and who is signed for mixing and mastering?

This time we wanted to achieve a bit more modern, wider sound, with a good punch. So finally we teamed up with Tomasz "Zed" Zalewski, who caught that direction flawlessly. He is well known mainly from thrash and alternative music productions, but he has such a big experience that it was a simple task to understand our needs. By the way, he have been working on the new Decapitated album at the same time, so it's another sign that he's one of the best sound engineers in our region. We also want to thank Dominik Wawak from dMb studio, for perfectly engineered drum recordings; and Filip "Heinrich" Hałucha from Heinrich House Studio, for his time and input!

When I got the promo materials from your label, I was surprised how many musicians changed in the band. Why is that? If I'm not mistaken, only Daniel Kesler is left from the original line-up. Does that mean he's the main composer, the person responsible for everything? How does REDEMPTOR actually create, compose new material?

Since the beginning our tunes are extremely far from being easy and cheerful in any way. That music is really demanding and time consuming to compose, and even more demanding to record and perform. So except Daniel, me and Hubert, the other members rotate more or less, jumping in if they have a time and energy to be a part of the band.

If it comes to the roles... Daniel is the main composer since he formed Redemptor in 2001. I've joined the horde in 2007 and Hubert in 2010. Since then we both add our ingredients to the main structure. Hubert is focused on soloing and good vibes in the band (you can only wonder how crucial is that!). I'm responsible for my parts of vocals, orchestrations, samples and backgrounds. I wrote a few songs as well, and Hubert finally did his first song for Redemptor on "Agonia" album.

REDEMPTOR always had great album covers. Do you put a lot of emphasis on graphics? The motif on "Agonia" really caught my attention and I like it. Who is the author and what exactly is the motif supposed to represent?

I've been doing all visuals for Redemptor since I became the member, so it was kinda point of honour for me, to make it always right. This time I've been searching for the right idea for a longer time. Main concept was to paint our tunes as an endless streams of lava, reflecting volcanic barren landscapes. So I was really close to do something dark and simple like Metallica did for the Black Album... And then I stumbled upon the gruesome pics from archaeological site at Pompei. At that time I've been writing the final track about Pliny the Elder - the slowest and the heaviest song I ever wrote. Searching for the deeper background of the story I found a real pictures of excavated people of Herculaneum, mummified with ashes. It totally blew my mind. So all I did then was to paint a figure screaming above, petrified in its dying breath. The whole body position is reflecting the real person, cast in ashes and mud in 79AD.

Is "Agonia" a concept album? It seems to me that you tell a dark and mysterious story. What are the lyrics on the new record about and who is the author?

"Agonia" ("agony" in Polish) pictures the critical stages of human attempts. We tried to look behind, from perspective of a man who is conscious about the whole burden of his experience, memories and reality around. That's the overall direction... But when it comes to the themes... Daniel prefers to write more abstract, philosophical lyrics. His lines have many meanings and leave space for interpretation, while mine are more focused on specific subjects. Zum Beispiel... First song relates to the hidden sides of social engineering. Another one embraces a vicious circle of hurt, repeating pattern, passed on various levels. We also have an anti-war protest song which talks directly about the refugees, living victims of war and regimes, that had a chance to survive and tell their stories (one important note: we don't speak about the modern forms of "Hegira" here). And finally you'll notice instantly, that the last song conveys the tragedy of Pompei, while as a matter of fact is inspired by the story of Pliny the Elder, and has a form of valedictory letter of a man, who meets his final hour.

How is REDEMPTOR doing with concerts? Do you have any live shows at all now? I also think it must be really hard to get your act together. You each play in different bands and for example drummer Daniel Rutkowski also performs with HATE.

We did a tour promoting the former album, and then we've been totally focused on our lives and writing "Agonia". I've became a father in that period, and so did Daniel, so you can imagine the scenario... we had simply different duties for a while... Then came that whole "Csomething" plan for humanity, so it was useless to plan anything else, than the album's release...

I like the Polish death metal scene a lot. But you guys are a bit different, atypical. Most of your bands combine death metal with black. But I'd put you more on the side of my favourites TRAUMA, LOST SOUL. Who was your role model when you started with music and how did you get into death metal?

Love to hear! These two bands are true veterans of our local scene. I would add Yattering to that trinity of bands who never shared the fame of our biggest export death metal acts, however their albums and gigs have been so powerful...

Well, I consider being a metalhead since I was 12. But I can even say that I'm into music since I was born, as my parents lived from it, and all of that spirit has been my natural environment. My father has been playing, composing and rehearsing with people all the time, mostly at our home. So that's why I'm simply addicted to music and the lifestyle it creates. Easy to guess, metal became my very own way of finding my identity, and ways to express my frustrations and disappointments of the young age. My drive into more and more extreme music accelerated till I was around 18. It had it's peak with technical death metal bands like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Cryptopsy and of course Morbid Angel, and finally Nile... Since then my fascination with brutal music started to extrapolate onto other genres, beyond metal as well.

You come from Krakow, which is a beautiful city. What's the scene like in your area? How many people come to a concert of death metal bands? What about the fans? I remember that Polish metalheads were always wild and a lot of fun. What about clubs, promoters? Is it alive in your country?

I moved to Cracow for this particular reason! I grew up in Warsaw, but the wild, crazy life in Krakow has been something I couldn't resist. It's hard to summarize 20 years of life, but yeah, it's been great to live in these times, when the metal scene was really strong here. Lots of great shows, dedicated people, and places you could go. But all things change... from my perspective metal music goes through a really strange and tough times. We can choose from amazing amount of new recordings, but narrowed audience, and big shift in a lifestyle of modern society brings metal to some reduced, bleached form, comparing to what this genre was... even 15 years ago...

What I really like about your band is how you are evolving, you have a clear direction and goal - to play honest, good music. But do you have any dreams? How far do you want to go with REDEMPTOR? Are you tempted by a big label, is there a dream of a festival?

Yes, we are really serious to tread our steps carefully. Each album takes shitloads of time and money to become reality. It's important part of our lives, so with each our release we try to transcend our past achievements. We already think about the next album, to rise the bar, and bring something new. Maybe not in terms of extremity and brutality, but for sure we want to go further considering the maturity, emotions and musicality. The other plans depend on situation of the overall "entertainment" business we know, and reality of the upcoming months and years. But for sure hitting the stage of some bigger fests would be a blast, and hope we gonna make it!

It is impossible not to ask, but in recent years we have been receiving negative information from Poland. I do not want to discuss the issue of abortion here, but I would be interested in the influence of the Church on normal life. Are the bands being restricted in any way? In our country, there is a constant battle between the left and the right, and unfortunately, dirty politics is penetrating metal as well. How is it with you?

I can speak only on my behalf. For me it's a simple thing... When you throw stones, the other side will sooner or later do something to fight back. No matter if it's the Catholic Church, or bunch of Pastafarianists... All antagonisms rise emotions, convictions, and help to create personal identity. But it's way healthier to rise over it, and to be conscious about all these mechanisms... Starting from stimulus–response behavioural patterns, to the roots of all things, related to the past and history. It's also good to have a closer look on social engineering, and all tricks it has under its belt, to entangle us in sick circles and blind emotionality. Without awareness we tend to become a part of other-directed, delirious mob. Of course it also happens on purpose, but it's good to know who benefits from that.

When you say technical death metal, everyone imagines complex compositions, unclear and often incomprehensible. How do you perceive death metal? What does it mean to you? You can go into philosophical reflections.

At least that is the area where I like to keep things simple... To me, the most important features of classic death metal genre are: broad use of blast-beat and growling; focus on overall sonic brutality, built around the specific, distorted-guitar riffs.

That's it, no use to complicate that... despite there are a few schools of this genre - which entered some significant variety - it's still easy to distinguish a typical death metal band. Of course this can be widened and mixed with other ingredients. That's what can make it more creative for the reviewers, and to help these bands who want to escape some boundaries.

What are REDEMPTOR's plans in the coming months? And would you like to say something to the fans?

To promote the album, and then to promote it even more. At this moment we are finishing the second video-clip and preparing several interesting YouTube footages, like play-throughs, interviews on equipment, and some other related things...

So we would like to invite You, to keep an eye on our profiles, to see what we got. Thanks for your time you spent on reading this interview, Stay well, and let the metal flow!

Thank you very much for the interview. I'm already looking forward to going home and watching "Agony" again. Really great work all round. I wish it sells well so that you always have packed concerts. May you do well in your private life. REDEMPTOR RULES!

Thank you so much, and best wishes to you Jakub as well!

Warm-hearted greetings also to the Czech metalheads and our friends there. We're having such a great memories from your peaceful country... in example countles, amazing times at Brutal Assault editions, and other fests. Hope to meet you soon!


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