pondělí 19. července 2021

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Interview - HELSLAVE - The greatest deal of the lyrics are designed to conjure a sense of impending doom, depicting apocalyptic scenarios and otherworldly figures.

Interview with death metal band from Italy - HELSLAVE, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Recenze/review - HELSLAVE - From The Sulphur Depths (2021):

Ave HELSLAVE! Greetings to Italy. I hope everything is fine with you. I was really looking forward to your new album "From The Sulfur Depths", I have always had a lot of fun with previous records and I was happy to come back to them. How did the new piece come about and why did it actually take so long?

Hello Jakub and Deadly Storm! We are all doing fine, and we hope the same applies to you. We have been working on the record since late 2018, and we occasionally played some of the new material during the shows. Since then, several unforeseen events occurred, with Lorenzo leaving the band, being later replaced by Marco and, of course the Covid pandemic being the two major reasons for delay.

I must say that the news literally cut me open. It is dense, massive, dark and at the same time cold as a corpse's hand. That's exactly how I like it! The mix is ​​signed by Dan Swanö. Did you record directly with him or did you just mix the record? How did you feel about going to the studio and how did you manage to get such killer material?

We performed all the tracking and pre-production, while Dan took care of mixing and mastering. He did an absolutely outstanding job and collaborating with him has been a pleasure and an honour for us. When we got to the studio, the tracks had been extensively arranged and very little was left to further change, we are very meticulous when it comes to songwriting and we throw away a lot of the ideas that we don’t find 100% convincing, I think this is the reasons the songs are so tight and consistent.

I always take the recordings as a whole and you underestimated not only the sound but also the cover. Juanjo Castellano has long been one of my favorite painters. How did you get together and how did the packaging come about? Did you have any requirements or did you choose from already prepared paintings? And how the cooperation went.

We got in contact with Juanjo via our manager Tito. We gave him some input and reference on the kind of artwork we desired, as we already had some ideas concerning the scenery and the colour palette, but we left him plenty of room for self-expression. The artwork has therefore been drawn specifically for this album, and we think that it really fits our sound and contributes to the atmosphere we are trying to convey with our work. Juanjo is a great professional and an extremely cool guy and we are glad to see that he his just as satisfied with the outcome as we are.

Texts are an integral part of the album. It states that you deal with occultism, apocalypse, death. So classic death metal themes. What are the lyrics to "From The Sulfur Depths" about, who is their author? Where did you get your inspiration for?

We wrote most of the lyrics together, many of them where initiated by Luca and Marco, but we always give them a final review as a whole band. The greatest deal of the lyrics are designed to conjure a sense of impending doom, depicting apocalyptic scenarios and otherworldly figures. Beside that, a couple of songs are built around horror and gruesome themes which are commonly found in death metal, with the particular instance of Funereal Lust being inspired by the true story of Carl Tanzler, a doctor who exhumed the corpse of one of his deceased patients and proceeded to perform necrophilia.

I really like to remember your concert in Volyně here in the Czech Republic in 2017. I already knew you from the records, but I really liked you live. Subsequent drinking, of course, too. I really like to remember that concert. Don't you want to do it again? How are you doing with the concerts at the moment? Do you perform a lot?

We really like to remember that night as well, even if some moments are quite blurry ;D! It has been a great concert and it was our first show after the Divination EP came out. We had the time of our life in Czech Republic, and we are madly in love with the country, its scene and its culture. We are sure that we will seize the opportunity to come back there as soon as possible!

Let's stay at the concerts. What about them at the moment in Italy? Do clubs work or is everything closed? A lot of bands replace them with live streams on social networks, but no one enjoyed this. I need a club, beer, girls!

Things in Italy are slowly but steadily getting back on track, mainly because of the massive vaccination campaign going on as we speak. Most venues are now organising smaller open-air gigs, with a limited crowd. We have not yet managed to play a live stream show, mainly because our singer comes from a different city and moving around regions is still quite complicated, but it is surely not the same as playing in front of a sweating, headbanging, drinking crowd.

And what about the underground scene in your country in general? Does it live in Italy? Are you from Rome, it's a big city, do you meet somewhere for death metal? If I visited the city, where should I go to the concert? And what about the fans? Do bands support?

There are tons of valid bands around Italy, playing the most diverse styles of death metal and beyond, we really hope they will manage to get the recognition they deserve. Most gigs in Rome are held by the Traffic Live Club, where we played several times, we strongly recommend you to check it out. The Italian scene is not as large or well known as those of other European countries, but the fans are definitely dedicated and willing to support the local bands.

We have been waiting for the new HELSLAVE record for six long years. I know, you've released an EP, but why did it take you so long? You have also undergone relatively large personnel changes. Was that the main reason?

We have never been too prolific or quick as a band when it comes to songwriting, we usually take some time to process the fatigue after releasing an album, so that we can restart with full force when it comes to composing new material. As you mentioned, we had to face some line-up changes through the years, starting from the singer and, more recently, the guitarist. These events undoubtedly slowed down the release of the second album, but have turned out to be quite positive in the end, since they allowed us to gain a stabler and more motivated line-up. Furthermore, the lockdown started just after we were done tracking drums, thus causing further delays. We can affirm that this album went through a very troublesome path, we really hope things will work out more easily for the next release!

Do you have any dreams with the band? In the underground you have a good name, but you want to move somewhere higher? I mean, are you attracted to a tour with a big name, to play at a big festival, to release another record at a well-known label? What dreams and vision do HELSLAVE have?

Things have started going right for us in the latest period, the awesome response for the new album and the progressive growth of our fan-base are providing us with a great motivation to work better and reach for higher objectives. Our ambition is, of course, to grow further, gaining our space in the European metal scene, trying to play wherever it is possible, including the biggest festivals. Especially after this period of forced inactivity, we are really willing to play live and reap the rewards of our work. Regarding the next record, we will think about it when the time is due, we are definitely satisfied with Pulverised Records, which we deem to be an excellent label and we hope to keep collaborating with them in the future.

What does death metal mean to you? Why did you choose this style? How did you get to it and what kind of musicians were your role models when you started? Do you perceive death metal "only" as music or is it also a lifestyle for you? You can look at this page philosophically.

I like to think that it was death metal to choose me, since my musical interest spontaneously orbited towards this direction, and towards extreme metal in general. My first approach with metal happened thanks to bands like Metallica and Pantera, and I started playing by learning their songs. Later, a research for more extreme and satisfying sounds began. I think that the sparkle for death metal started when I first heard At the Gates at the start of the 2000s, since then I started listening to a great deal of death and black metal, mostly coming from Scandinavia. Putting up a band playing in that style has only been a natural consequence. Setting aside musical enjoyment and the passion for its themes and aesthetic, extreme music has always been a relief valve for negativity and frustration, I consider it to be therapeutic for the mind and the spirit for all intents and purposes. I think that being passionate for this style is something that goes well beyond the mere musical aspect, it is an attitude that you carry in all phases of your life.

Thank you so much for the interview. I'm going to play the new "From The Sulphur Depths" again. It's great! Good luck and I hope that we will meet again somewhere at the concert and have a beer together!

Thank you for the kind words and the space that you granted us, Jakub. We are glad that you enjoyed the album and we can’t wait to meet you again!

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