Necromass: Band Of The Day

By on 7 November 2013

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Italian black metal purists NECROMASS are back after an 11 year hiatus and have released their third full-length earlier this year. ‘Calix. Utero. Babalon’ is a unique offering, a masterfully built up album with mature, mesmerizing songs, where the band proves they can still push their abilities almost 20 years after the release of their otherworldly international success ‘Mysteria Mystica Zothyriana’.

Bassist/vocalist ASA and guitarist J.C. Kerioth joined Terrorizer to discuss the new album and to remember the early years, where the band got to tour with Dark Funeral…

WORDS: Joel Costa

WHO ARE THEY: Necromass
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Florence, Tuscany, Italy
FOR FANS OF: Dark Funeral, Marduk, Enthroned
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Calix. Utero. Babalon’ (Funeral Industries)
WEBSITE: Official site & Facebook

The band was formed in 1992. Can you tell us a bit about your first steps?
Ain Soph Aur (bass, vocals): “Necromass were born in September 1992 and immediately recorded the demo-tape ‘Connected Body Pentagram’, malignant Death Metal influenced by American bands like Deicide and Vital Remains, with no trace of the sound that we developed a few months later. Actually from the 7” EP ‘His Eyes’ (1993) – where Black Wizard and me joined the band – we started to move from Death to Black Metal. In 1994 we recorded our second 7” EP ‘Bhoma’ and finally our debut album ‘Mysteria Mystica Zothyriana’, which has been an international success and it’s the sum of the first part of our career. Then we have chosen to embrace more progressive sounds in the second album ‘Abyss Calls Life’, and to abandon the corpse painting, because we had the willingness to deviate from the Black Metal cauldron coming out at that time. In fact, many bands emerged and sold thousands of copies in that period, not for their music talent, but only because they were trendy! This context was tight for us and we tried more innovative solutions!”

In 1999 you decided to disband. Why?
ASA: “With the release of the ‘Chrisalis’ Gold’ EP, initially made as “promo” for the labels, there was some label interest to offer us a contract for the third album, but while we were working on the new songs, we were afflicted by several personal problems. Some of us departed and later we disbanded.”

And how does it feel now that you’re back?
ASA: “It has been a big challenge and we have been electrified to return on stage and to write the songs for the new album; we are also very curious about the reception of ‘Calix.Utero.Babalon’! Even if our lives are radically changed, we quickly realized that our potential remained the same, our alchemy has transmuted and strengthened, and the entry of our new drummer, Charun, has brought new force, thickness and passion inside the band!”

How do you describe the influence that your 1994 debut full-length ‘Mysteria Mystica Zothyriana’ had on the international black metal scene?
ASA: ‘Mysteria Mystica Zothyriana’ represented a crucial point in our musical career. It was our first album, something you cannot forget! At the time none of us would have imagined that it would become a milestone in the international extreme underground scene. I was 17 and we recorded and mixed it at night, because we were working all the day. There was a magical and occult atmosphere in the recording studio and probably that’s what people have perceived when they listened to it.”

JC Chaos (Guitars): “We had a huge feedback from almost all the countries in the world: fans who wrote us enthusiastic letters from each continent! At that time also lots of bands wrote us and worshipped that album, which has been really influential later on as well. We know Unisound re-released the album several times (also with a different cover) and someone said it sold more than 25.000 copies.”

‘Abyss Calls Life’ was released two years later and the press said it was one of the most important extreme metal releases of the year, however I read that it wasn’t that easy for you back then, with a lot of promises from the labels and little action. What failed? And did this have anything to do with your disbandment?
ASA: “After the bad experience with Unisound (they didn’t help us with live promotion and did not sent us any royalties), we were looking for a label that could follow us, also on the live side. The Italian label Dracma Records seemed to be the right one: we recorded in their studios at the end of 1995 and in the following year ‘Abyss Calls Life’ was out. In 1996-97, the label worked very well in terms of “live” programming, but they didn’t had the same good performance in terms of distribution abroad! Despite
this, “Abyss Calls Life” was one of the best sellers of all time of Dracma Records! But at that time we weren’t satisfied anymore about their work and we began to look around to find a label that could give us the right support in terms of distribution.”

JC Chaos: “I don’t think that our disbandment was due to our relation with the label, because we always have had several offerings, and certainly we did not find all we asked (good live promotion and good distribution), but the main point was probably the difficulty to manage our never-ending will to change in a scene which did not tolerate too many changes.”

You toured with Dark Funeral back in 1996. Would you like to share some memories about that?
ASA: “We remember with great pleasure those days spent with them, they were already a great international band and they have always been available and professional people. I remember a date in Germany where we played in a venue with torches on the walls and pig heads impaled on upside down crosses on stage; or Paris, the first date of the tour, where after the concert we all went together to get drunk in a pub in a red light district … It was a great experience from all points of view!”

JC Chaos: “I remember a lot of blood in the backstage. It was just like a slaughter every night! Emperor Caligula was with us almost all the time, and we had such a good time destroying and devastating every place we went. We also had some problems with the police: we were looking so bad and nasty! I remember their drummer who was always busy to practice with blast-beats (he was a monster!) while we just wanted to be wasted all the time!”

You have recently released ‘Calix. Utero. Babalon.’ via Funeral Industries, 17 years after the last full-length. What are the main differences you can point in comparison to your previous records?
ASA: ‘Calix.Utero.Babalon.’ represents the perfect synthesis of our previous works: a crossroad between the savagery and atmosphere of ‘Mysteria’ and the technique and the melody of ‘Abyss’; powerful and violent songs, with evil melodies and wild grooves! We focused in the essentiality of the songs, with linear but well-orchestrated structures. We are always driven by our imagination and by our instinct, being able to convey it in an esoteric and poetic imagery, now much more refined than ever before! I think it’s a good starting point after all these years of silence. We had an excellent production working with Tommy Talamanca, at Nadir Studios. And I can tell you that we also had very good feedback from the fans when we played the songs live in front of people listening to the new songs for the first time!”

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Tell me about the artwork, and why did you trust Franz von Stuck to create it?
ASA: “Babalon represents the earthly expression of the feminine, the sexuality and receptiveness of the universe; Utero is where she creates a new life; Calix, the calice, represents the vagina, kteis, where the woman receives the seed and the male energy. It was not easy to find an image that reflected the full contents of the album, and especially the title! Franz von Stuck is a well known artist in occult circles, because of the richness of symbols in his works… In this painting, we have found all the esoteric and mystical elements which characterize the figure of Babalon, as well as an erotic underground and mesmerizing component.”

JC Chaos: “This painting, titled “Tilla Durieux as Circe” (1913, exactly 100 years before our album) is simply perfect for the album’s concept. I don’t think it is a fortuity to have found this artwork… I think this painting found us to reveal its powerful symbolism, once again after all these years, in connection with our music, maybe because Franz von Stuck (or perhaps Tilla Durieux) found our album as the best way to give new life to this painting.”

Italy has been exporting a lot of important metal acts, Necromass being one of them. What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel Italians have a better way to express their art?
JC Chaos: “Art has always been the area where Italians expressed the best of them, from Leonardo to Michelangelo, from Verdi, Puccini, Paganini, Rossini to Ennio Morricone, several painters, sculptors, writers, directors, musicians, etc., created lots of the art masterpieces that we all know. I think that creativity here comes out from our history, on one hand, and from the external influences on the other hand. Furthermore, we live in Florence, a city where you can breathe art in every place. We just turned those feelings into a black, sinister way to express art.”

What are your plans for touring and how important is your live activity for the band?
JC Chaos: “We think that live activity is the most important trial and the real meaning of being a musician; only on stage you can feel the true essence of a band and that’s why we would like to play the most concerts we can. This year we played in Turin, Milan, Florence and Athens and we’re going to play some more gigs in the South of Italy. Next year we’ll embark for a pair of European tours: it’s not so easy to arrange many gigs, but we’ll try to do our best to play in every nation across our continent and to participate in some summer festival.

Add some final words, if you’d like to!
ASA & JC Chaos: “We are back after several years of silence to share our darkest energy. Listen to ‘Calix. Utero. Babalon.’ and join us in our journey through obscurity, violence and lust!

About Kez Whelan

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