Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sonorous Howl From Beyond the Stars: An interview with Matti Makela of Corpsessed

I understand that you were involved with Wormphlegm prior to the formation of Tyranny. Could you tell me a little about this time and what led to Tyranny's creation?

- Both Tyranny and Wormphlegm actually coexisted simultaneously. 
I formed my first band with Lauri (Lindqvist) in 1998, which later evolved into more doomy expression and eventually became Tyranny perhaps by 2001. The earlier stages were more of experimentation, learning to actually play our instruments and finding out what it was we wanted to do with music. These steps are not really important to other people (outsiders) and not worth digging up or releasing, but on a personal level they are really important phases of growth for me, for sure.
Wormphlegm was started by me and A.K. (or Dirtmaster if you will, the pseudonym he used for most of his other projects) in 2000. So .... Wormphlegm and Tyranny were always kind of parallel, but going through different stages of their own evolution. 
The three of us (me, Lauri and A.K.) had our own very secluded circle, and we had all sorts of projects going on during those years. Later on Lauri joined Wormphlegm as well as a live bassplayer, but he also did some vocal work on the full-length album. 
What led to Tyranny's creation? Our personal need to create something like this, and perhaps it was just inevitable. All the paths taken previously just seemed to lead into this one.

What would you say were the main differences between Wormphlegm and Tyranny? 

- The themes for one, the concept and the people involved in creating it, and the sound as well I'd like to think. The themes in Wormphlegm were mostly Dirtmaster's brainchild being more grittier and savage... even with the way it was written, there's nothing poetic about it, it was meant as an attack or Torture, where as Tyranny was more "artistic" in a way. That's not really perhaps the right word here.
Musicwise - Tyranny, much like the moniker itself, was always very strictly structured and composed and perhaps never really meant as a live playing entity - as it is just the two of us, Lauri and me, recording and handling all the instruments in a studio environment. The music was also constructed as more solemn and perhaps suited for listening alone in a certain mindset.
Wormphlegm was more, dare I say random or chaotic. The riffs and structures were there, sure, but we improvised alot and played the stuff live onto recordings with a more stream of consciousness method. That's probably why with every live performance the songs came out quite different each time, depending on the mood of that night. 
It's kind of ironic that we ended up doing more live gigs actually with Tyranny than with Wormphlegm.


What were your main influences in regards to Tyranny's sound and lyrical themes?

- The works of H.P.Lovecraft were always a huge influence for us on lyrical level. That sort of cosmic horror where man will realize just how small he is and how indifferent and cold the universe is towards him... that's doom!
I guess we could also add the works of R.E.Howard to some degree. Some movies have also made a great influence on us, I'm especially a huge fan of the Horror genre. You probably won't see that in the lyrics as much, but rather in the music. I try to create similar creepy and tense atmospheres by different means. Fear is a key factor in the atmosphere Tyranny tries to convey. 
The sound was influenced by some doom bands for sure (like Thergothon, Skepticism, Unholy, Hierophant, Dusk, Disembowelment), though the main influences were probably more Black Metal or Death Metal based. That's the stuff we grew up listening to. But we always wanted our music to be very simple yet atmospheric, with heavy emphasis on crushing bass frequencies which was the "ground" of the music. The lead guitars or synths would be the eerie mist floating above it - to give some sort of visual image of what we wanted to achieve, heheh.

Would you say that writing doom is a more "taxing" endeavor than conjuring fourth death metal riffs?

- Absolutely, atleast for me. It requires tapping into a certain mood/mindset to be able to write that kind of material. Sure, it's easy just to bang a few chords extremely slowly but when you are actually trying to channel some emotion through it (wether or not it will ever convey to the listener).... it gets difficult and really taxing, and I can find myself constructing some really minimalistic idea for years even. As someone put it, “The simplest things are often the truest.”
When there is no fluff and you just try to present the most raw and simplest idea, and still keeping it in a monolithic form that flows seamlesly from one part to the next, without becoming "blocky" - that's where the difficulty lies.
I in no way will mock Death Metal riffs either, as I dearly love that genre as well, but it has always seemed "easier" to write. But that's a totally different mood I want to tap into - a more destructive, cold and powerful one, where perhaps cruel emotionlessness (hah, a funny parallel, phlegm [Noun] - apathy demonstrated by an absence of emotional reactions) is even more preferred. 


Were you pleased with Fireboxes handling of 'Bleak Vistae'?

- I guess they did a decent job in the beginning, at least promotionwise; they got the name TYRANNY out there which is the most important part. Though a band should always interest you with their music, not by marketingploys. I'm not sure how Firebox is even doing these days, probably not so good? 
I wouldn't make the same kind of deal we did back then anymore though. Don't get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the money... on the contrary, I would much rather take a bulk load of CDs/albums than royalties of sales. That way I atleast can spread my own works to people who contact me directly rather than a faceless record company. The situation was rather annoying at one point... people kept asking me for CDs and I had to tell them sorry, I have none - go buy it at the labels webshop.
After the release of "Tides..." we weren't much in contact with the label at all. Perhaps they thought we were dead. This became very evident when they made re-pressings of our albums last year without our permission or even contacting us at all (the written deal was done, they had no rights to the releases anymore). I think they might have thought they would get away with this without giving us anything. 
Lauri then contacted them, and asked what's the deal here and aren't we at least entitled to some percentage of the CD pressings. Well, they delivered those to us, and I'm happy.... so that's it.

In 2005, only a year after the release of 'Bleak Vistae', Tyranny released the mammoth 'Tides of Awakening', an uncommon feat within the funeral genre considering the wait between most funeral bands material is usually a good five or more years. How were you able to pull this off?

- I'm still quite astounded by that myself as well, considering that it took us about 3 years to write "Bleak Vistae" and now even longer with the third upcoming album (what has it been, 7 years already?).
I think we wrote "Tides of Awakening" within one year, though the fourth track "Arcane..." was a reworking of an older idea dating a few years back. That time was very creative and we worked alot on our music, recording and rehearsing stuff almost 
every weekend. "Tides of Awakening" sort of just flowed out of us. After the album was done, me and Lauri both felt kind of exhausted and agreed that we would need at least a one year break before we even would start to write new material. Just so 
that we would atleast have a new angle on things.
So, the album certainly took it's toll on us.

Unbelievably, the next year would bear more rotten fruit in the form of Wormphlegm's debut album 'Tomb of the Ancient King'. Would you say that you were at your creative peak during this period, in terms of your prolific quantity of output?

- Oh yes, absolutely. Those years were definately a some sort of peak in my creativity. "TOTAK" was actually written and recorded already in 2004, it took us a few years to actually get it out. Perhaps the biggest problem was Dirtmaster's fading 
interest in music, so I had to struggle with things quite much on my own, forcing and kicking Lauri also to contribure to the visual side of things, meaning artworks etc... he must still hate me for being such an asshole back then, heh. I think I was the only one who had any interest in getting this album released outside of our own private circles, and I was also the only outside contact for the band. After the release of the demo people were basically begging us to release something... so I gave in, heh.

The next year saw the birth of your next band, 'Corpsessed'. What were the circumstances that led to this and what were your intentions as a musician in regards to Corpsessed's musical direction?

- Tyranny was on hiatus, Wormphlegm was slowly rotting and inactive as well... so I had to keep myself active somehow, but the music had to be something completely different compared to these outputs.
A local friend asked me to help out his band at one point. Their bassplayer had left and they needed someone to fill in on a few gigs they had booked. Though the music was not really my cup of tea, I agreed to help them out but only joining in on as a session member... Through this band I met the drummer J-P Manner and we seemed to share a similar interest towards Death Metal so we started talking about forming a band of our own together. It didn't take long, and we gathered a group of friends and this band became Corpsessed. The musical direction wasn't really that clear in the beginning, only that it was going to be Death Metal. So, we started rehearsing quite actively trying to figure out what we were capable of and what came to us most naturally. It took a few years and we finally recorded our first EP in 2010.


In 2011 Corpsessed released the instantly classic, 'The Dagger and the Chalice'. Were you pleased with the end result and could you elaborate a bit on the band's rather thunderous guitar tone?

- Yes, that aforementioned EP was released in 2011 by the US label Dark Descent Records. I'm still very pleased how the recording turned out. It's the result of about 3 years of work, granted most of that time we mostly refining the songs to their fullest potential... we also discarded lots of material that just didn't suite the purpose of the band.
The monstrous guitar sound? I'll take that as a huge compliment, thanks, as it has always been me who was in charge of the recordings and sounds when it comes to Tyranny and Corpsessed. The sound owes alot to the experimentation work I did with Tyranny, but now used in a Death Metal environment. A heavy emphasis on the low frequencies and a gritty distortion... that's what it really is, and the way I love it.

What led to the disbandment of Wormphlegm?

- I guess the fading interest of Dirtmaster towards music was the keyfactor, and I would never do that band without him. This happened after the recordings of TOTAK and the few European gis we did in 2004. After that we managed only to record a few rehearsals. 
He was always such a huge part of the whole concept, so the band would never be the same without his presence. He is one of the most eccentric people I have ever met, and he usually dedicates himself totally towards one thing, becomes a master of it... and after that, usually moves on to do something completely else. I mean, Dirtmaster had his creative peak during 2000-2005 as well. I think he wrote and recorded about 10 albums worth of music during that time, of which many are still unreleased and probably will remain that way.
I however somehow still felt that there are things that were left undone, atleast for me, within the type of music Wormphlegm did. That's why I've just recently started to work on a solo project that is a continuation of the sound and themes but from a different angle - the circle must be carved complete, it will haunt me forever if I don't do it. This is the basis for the at this point unnamed project. Let us see what will come out of it.

What is the status with Tyranny at the moment and what can we expect from Corpsessed in the coming months/years?

- Tyranny has been more active during the past few years. We've done a few live appearances and slowly recorded pieces of our upcoming album in short sessions.
The work has been quite frustrating to say the least. Perhaps it's just my perfectionism. We've recorded few of the songs probably now 3 or 4 times. I think at the moment we are getting close to what I want the album to be, but there's still much work to be done. I wont even try to set a release date for this, I know it'll eventually take longer than any time set time plan. Though it would be probably healthy to just eventually let go and say this is it... the album is now done!
Corpsessed also takes a huge amount of my time these days, me and Lauri are also living quite far apart nowadays which has effected our activity alot. We are also in the writing process for a full-length album with Corpsessed which we hope to start recording during the later parts of this year.

What are your thoughts on the current state of death metal? Are there any new bands out there that have caught your attention?

- I actually quite like it how things are currently. Though there are many many new bands (and not all of the probably that worthwhile), I find it exhilarating that somehow the older style of rotting death metal has found new vitality to it's undead husk... New younger bands embrace the morbid stench of the old and even older entities have started rising back from their graves, and of course there are those who never even left but have found such new strength to them.
Some new bands I've enjoyed? Atleast Dead Congregation, Venenum, Inverloch (do they count? haha, love the new EP!), Coffin Texts, Necros Christos, Maveth, Lie in Ruins and Teitanblood I have enjoyed immensly. 

Three albums you cannot live without:

This is a hard one... so many good albums, it changes from time to time what I want to listen, mainly depending on my mood. But let's list three albums that have probably affected me the most.

Devil Doll - Dies Irae
Esoteric - Metamorphogenesis
Deicide - s/t OR Incantation - Mortal Throne... can't choose

Alright Matti, many thanks for taking time out to do this. Any last words for the damned?

I think this covers it for now... this was probably the most indepth interview I've ever given without being cryptic at all. Thank you very much for the opportunity Joshua! And cheers to everyone who had the time and interest to read all of this through.

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