Substance of Ancient darkness - majesty of art advanced - through excruciating occult barbarity & magma filled sounds of lost sanity... Confront the emanation of Death by this gifted subterraneous act. Tony /vocals/ answered.
Originally conceived in February, 2008.
PDF version of the interview (old design).
9th plague. Tell me about where the name of the band comes from, in fact, who and how have come across such a great name for a band? It doesn’t get more darker! Has the name predestined the bands direction back then and do you still keep the meaning behind the name in mind as a band?
Exactly, it doesn’t get more dark, because the very meaning of the name is “darkness”, complete and total darkness. It derives from the ten plagues of Egypt as mentioned in the Bible. The ninth plague was darkness. Check Exodus 10:21-23 for the complete explanation. We decided to use it because of its symbolic value. As our lyrics deal a lot with the darkside and the Occult, we thought it was appropriate. The name didn’t predestined the band’s direction because we already had that direction. It was more a case of finding a band name that would fit with the direction. The direction has always been the same though. And I was the one who came up with the name.
Let’s move to the idea of your debut album and its title Apocatastasis Reversed. Could you explain the meaning behind the title itself? I think the cover illustrates that meaning in all the infernal beauty but again in wider sense could the title be comprehend as “Values reversed” in fact? Is there also expressed any common vision which runs through album’s lyrics?
“Apocatastasis” is a tricky word. You got it wrong in your question, but I corrected it for you, haha! But I’m not surprised. A lot of people get it wrong. And it was a bitch learning to sing it, which I do in the song “Infernal apocatastasis”. Anyway, it is originally a greek word and it describes a state of the world after the apocalypse. A state when everything that is “evil”, or perhaps I should say “non-christian”, is exterminated and the kingdom of heaven unfold upon earth. The thought behind “Apocatastasis reversed” is of course that this state is reversed. The christians did not inherit the world. Instead the hordes of hell were unleashed and exterminated all forms of religion. It has to do with the fact that nothing is predestined. Nothing is certain. Just because something is predicted in a religious book, it doesn’t mean that it will happen. As for a common vision, the album is not some sort of concept album, but all the lyrics are dark, occult or even Satanic, so I guess that would be the “common vision”.
The hellucinative portrait of the cover is kind of a Satanic idea, I would say, and so are the lyrical views citing Satan now and then. Could you put some more “darkness” onto your personal philosophy - what Satan, Satanism stands for you personally and how about other insights on other gods and believes inspires you and takes part in creating your spirituality or may I say “Ego”?
Sure, you can call it a “Satanic idea” because there are demonic creatures killing off christians, moslems and other filth. But the concept of “Satanism” in 9th Plague is used mainly as a tool, a weapon if you prefer, to agitate against organized religion. There probably was a time when I leaned more towards satanism than I do today, but I guess that was part of my personal growth as an individual. I am not a satanist, but I use Satan as a symbol because that is what has most leverage against all the organized religions as a whole. And I am very much against all forms of religion because I consider them to be the root of a lot of that which is evil in this world. To quote author Arthur C. Clarke: “Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?”
And how about your explanation and imaginations concerning heaven and hell phenomena?
“Heaven and hell” was a decent album by Black Sabbath. With this I mean to say that there is no heaven and no hell. At least not in the way that the religions tell us. Therefore heaven and hell is mere fiction, a title of an album made by a hard rock band. There is of course another explanation, something that you can experience on a more personal level. Emotional heaven or hell. Something that I have experienced quite a lot from unrequited love, for example. When you are with a person, it feels like heaven, nothing else matters and all that sentimental crap. Then when you are not with this person and you know that it can never be, then you experience a hell worse than anything else. Belive me when I say there is a fine line between heaven and hell, and my eyes have seen both!
What sickening art seen let you decide to go with Zig for the cover of Apocatastasis Reversed? How was it like working with Zig and how much effort & time has been put into the ingenious cover till your vision was fulfilled?
When Butchered Records asked us what artist we wanted to do the album cover, I sent him a list of some artists who I thought could realize my idea for the cover. Jon Zig was actually my first choice and when Butchered told us we could get him, it was great news. Zig is a renowned artist and has done a lot of good album artwork over the years, so I wouldn’t say it was some art in particular that made me want him for the job. I knew he could do blasphemous stuff and that was what we needed. Plus, as he is also the singer for a band like Sarcolytic whose concept is also a bit occult, I knew he would be an appropriate choice. I had heard beforehand that he could be a bit slow because of his busy schedule, but he worked very fast. I was impressed. The artwork was finished before the recording actually began. And he realized my idea better than I could have ever imagined. He only made two minor changes after we had seen the first draft. And one of these was just something he added by himself. Originally we thought we would use a detail from the artwork for the back of the album, but when we asked Zig to isolate one, he sent us the design that we used in addition to what he had already made. And it was awesome! The man was great to work with and I have only good things to say about the whole experience.
Is there any prevalent procedure of how your lyrics come into form? How much are you aiming to go in depth when writing a text? Could you speak about the most influential literature as well as other major or minor sources where you draw your inspirations from?
It usually start with a title or a couple of lines. Then the music decide which idea fit with which song and I take it from there. Sometimes you can not be as in-depth as you wish because a song can be too short for that, but I always do my research and am very careful in getting both my facts and my English correct. As for inspiration, this can come from almost anything. A couple of ideas came from isolated occurrences and some from personal experiences. There is even a song that was inspired by one single line one of the characters in the sitcom “Third rock from the sun” said. It of course has nothing whatsoever to do with this sitcom, but that line triggered an entire idea in my somewhat warped brain. So you see, inspiration can come from almost everywhere. As for literature, very few songs on “Apocatastasis reversed” was inspired by literature. But in those cases I guess the Bible and the writings of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Bloch was the inspiration. Ancient grimoires was of course also used when writing stuff like “The God of Ekron resurrected” or “Betwixt and between”.
How have you learned to work with your throat as time went? In general, how do you think about your vocals, style & what moods are you trying to conjure? Aside the darkened deeper range, you’ve developed some higher layered, hellish-sputum range of vocals. At first these didn’t impress me at all sounding quite immature but now I’m swallowed within their spheres, it’s like a mad insane voice of an oppressed demon in one’s mind trying to cause complete lunacy. Is this kind of an impact you wanted to achieve?
Ah, my vocals. Well, they have changed quite a bit back and forth over the years. When I started to do vocals in my first bands, I was not very good. I tried to sound deep and brutal but I wasn’t. Then I did black metal for a couple of years and had to sing brighter. This was not very good for my throat and my vocal cords so I developed a problem and couldn’t really sing for a while. After taking a break, I decided to give it a new try with 9th Plague. Going back to death metal proved a good thing for my voice as this felt more natural. The first demo turned out ok but then I got a job where I was exposed to car fumes all day and this made my throat quite dry. That was part of the reason why the vocals turned out crap on the second demo. I was to blame as well, because I went for an even more old school approach than on the debut demo, but that is a different story. Then I quit the job where I was exposed to car fumes and my voice recovered. When I started out doing the vocals for the third demo, it turned out too old school at first so I had to pull my shit together and change my vocal style a bit again. The result was great and I finally knew how I should sing. And this is the vocal style that I then used for “Apocatastasis reversed” as well. It did not fit that well for the songs that was originally performed with a different vocal style in mind, the songs from the two first demos, but it still turned out ok. As for the brighter vocals, I am not 100% satisfied with how they turned out, but it works. The idea was of course to use dual vocals the way bands like Hate Eternal or Internecine did, but at some places I tried to “cause complete lunacy” as you put it. For example some parts in “The God of Ekron resurrected” (especially the conjuration part at the end) and “De Vermis Mysteriis”.
Music-wise, could you speak about the ever-evolving progress in composition & attitudes shift in 9th Plague’s musical entity? What is the common musical vision you all share in the band and how are you concretely moving towards it?
Hmm, I think the evolving process is just a natural progression. We never really sat down and talked about how the music should change. Well, maybe we tried some times, but the music that came out was still pretty much what came out naturally.
Who is the main writing force in the band? How creative you are as a band when it comes to polishing and finishing a song?
Guitar player Kristofer Örstadius probably come up with the majority of the material. Bass player Johan Lindberg write music too. Then we all help out arranging the riffs into songs. I do 100% of the lyrics.
A description of a usual/unusual rehearsal of the band would be appreciated. Where is your catacomb of aural evil located? How does these evocations of darkness proceed actually and how often those rituals took place? Do you always bring some sacrifices for gods so he can endue you with pouring creativity?
This varies. If we need to practice for a recording or a show, or if we are being very creative at the moment, rehearsals are more often. To call them “rituals” and speak of “sacrifices” would be wrong though. These are concepts more at home in religions and as I said before, we are against religions. They are mere rehearsals to practice or create music. I know some bands think of music this way, and it can be kind of cool, but it is not for us. Sorry if I disillusionize people but this is the truth.
Six songs on the album are taken from the three demos spewed during 2002-2006. How come you have embedded these tracks into the album? Since I don’t know majority of the songs originally could you reveal how much refining and rearranging these lava spurts were? Did any of those tracks really surprisingly stand out after the remaking was done?
You said it yourself, you didn’t know the majority of the songs beforehand. We reckoned not that many people had actually heard all our demos prior to the album. So why not use decent songs again? Some of them needed to be recorded and even to be performed in a better way as well. Plus that some of them were changed a bit. “Visions of an unknown god” from the first demo lack a sample that was incorporated with it as an intro in the original recording. Otherwise it is pretty much the same. The lyrics were partly re-written for “Betwixt and between” since it first appeared on a demo, and it was pretty much the same with “Beyond the flesh”, only this was a more extensive re-writing. The remaining three re-recordings, the songs from the “Triumph of Diabolism” demo, was not changed that much as that demo came out in 2006 and the album was recorded only a couple of months after that. I added “the conjuration of Beelzebuth” from the Grimorium Verum at the end of “The God of Ekron resurrected” though. That was not on the original version. Another reason why we re-recorded six old songs was of course that we did not have enough material otherwise. But even if someone have all three demos, these are in some cases new versions and there are six new songs on it as well. As for one of the older songs standing out, I think “The Shrine of Satan” is a much better song now than it was on “Triumph of Diabolism”.
You have released 3 demos as said and then the album was unleashed. What aspects in your case led to the decision of releasing 3 demos first, wasn’t it frustrating being a “demo band” for over 6 years or so? Do you think this is a way bands should follow rather than to release a crap album after just one or no demo?
You’re on to something here. It was always our intention to do some demos first and build some kind of underground credibility before we did an album. We had album offers already after the first demo but that didn’t feel right. And we had offers after the shitty second demo as well, but we did not feel it was fair to have an album follow a shitty demo. “Triumph of Diabolism” was done with the intention to get us a deal and that is what happened. This time we were ready and it felt right. And that is why we now have released an album. But sure, it has been frustrating at times but the album followed the “right” demo, so to speak.
Doug Cerrito has composed the eponymous track - Spiritual Holocaust - on first Hate Eternal album. This track represents a mark of a highly influential infernal abomination. I know of some bands - Handful of Hate, song Livid; Eternal, song Fnatic Desire - drawing inspiration of the killer riffing and/or excellent rhythmical time signatures, which are sort of simple but so genius, one can’t get enough of these. 9th Plague is another example to the line, I’ve noticed the aforementioned influence in the song The Manifestation of Hell. Are you aware of this kind of distinct similarity? Anyway how much and why do you value Hate Eternal, and other bands like
Morbid Angel, Nile being such huge influences?
No, I was not aware of that. Obviously without Morbid Angel we would never have existed, I am not even sure if death metal had existed in todays form if it weren’t for Morbid Angel. I know we have mentioned these bands as influences and it is of course correct, but we never deliberately tried to sound like them. It’s more or less just how things came out. And as the majority of reviewers use them to describe our sound, that is probably the way things are. More and more people mention Immolation as well, and I guess that is fair too. But none of the composers listen to Immolation. I listen to all kinds of death metal but I guess that is not the case with the other pussies in the band, haha... and as I don’t write music, it is probably wrong to actually say that a band like Immolation had an influence on our music. But apparently some of our riffs are in that vein. And vocally I am probably mainly influenced by Ross Dolan these days.
With what idea sound-wise were you going into studio to record the album. The sound turned out so raw and underground it’s incredible. The guitars just chants obscurity of magma heaviness and so on... I hope to Death you’re satisfied with the outcome!?
Thank you! We are pretty pleased with the outcome. When you consider it was our first album and that we recorded everything but the vocals ourselves it turned out well. We didn’t really have an idea when we started recording. We just tried to make it as brutal as possible, in a way that would fit us. When we did “Triumph of Diabolism” we had an idea to try to get the guitar sound like on Hate Eternal’s “I, monarch” but halfway through the recording we discovered it would be better to try for Nile’s “Annihilation of the wicked”. In the end, nothing sounded near these albums and I guess that is why we did not try to get someone else’s sound for “Apocatastasis reversed”. It is 100% 9th Plague. Then if someone want to compare it to something else, that is probably fine as long as it’s not to a non-death metal band.
Tell me about the impulses & passion that have brought you to Death metal art and constantly keep you following it and later on creating it? How much time & thoughts do you dedicate to our precious and only art of Death?
I only speak for myself here... I always looked for music that was faster and more brutal. When I discovered real death metal in 1989 I was hooked. I may not be too fond of some of its modern styles, like with pig/frog vocals, but I love death metal. And that is why I also wanted to create it, because I loved it so much. There was a time when death metal was my entire life and it is still a big part of my life, but other things in my personal life have made me, both voluntarily and involuntarily, change some of my priorities. Don’t get me wrong, I still love death metal, but sometimes things change with age and other things become more important.
What is your point of view on the state and evolution of Death metal nowadays when every other melodic HC-metal crap band refers to its music as Death metal or Deathcore or whatever?
Personally I like brutal hardcore like Hatebreed or Full Blown Chaos, but hardcore should not be incorporated in death metal. I hate when you do that. I don’t like the pig/frog vocal style either and I don’t think you should use too many black metal influences in death metal either. Musically and vocally that is, to use Satanic lyrics is of course ok. Speaking of lyrics, I can’t say that I appreciate social awareness lyrics. Not really fond of the fascination for hacking and slashing or the serial killers and psychopath worship either. This does not stop me from enjoying a good riff though. The music is what’s most important.
What is this the future of the Death metal underground in this internet-globalization techno era? How do you approach the Myspace thing?
Myspace is good, I think. You reach more people and potential listeners than you used to do. Today I would say I get 85% of all my mail through My space, 14% through my e-mail and 1% to my P.O. box. It is of course easier and this is how things are in 2008. A band would be stupid not to be a part of it. Unless the point is to remain obscure and only for the die-hards. We however want to reach as many people as possible with “Apocatastasis reversed” so we are a part of it. Don’t get me wrong, we would never sell out or anything. We are still 100% underground, but the underground is a lot different today than it was back in 1990 when I started my first band.
Your opinion about extreme right wing propaganda and pseudo socialistic thoughts which envenom Death metal and especially black metal but overall society these days?
It is not for me. I don’t care for racial or political issues. I used to say that I hated everyone, only to a greater or lesser extent. But this is not true today as something happened in my personal life in 2006 that changed a lot of my values. But I still don’t care for right wing propaganda or socialism. I don’t think the right wing propaganda is that common in death metal as it is in black metal though. I wouldn’t say it envenom death metal. There are a couple of bands, but I don’t think of it as an actual “movement” or something. To mix nazi-stuff with Satanism is wrong though. All they could possibly have in common is the cliché “only the strong survive”. German soldiers back in the Adolf-days had to swear allegiance to both “God” and country just as American soldiers do today. And “real” Nazis don’t think too kindly of Satanists just as “real” Satanists doesn’t care for Nazis.
We are at the end of the talk. Thanks so much! Keep the metal of Death infernal & eternal, 666!
Thank you for the interview! And remember: death metal is not dead yet! May it never die! If people want to check out our album they can do so at: