This band I got to know only recently, when their recent release “Dreaming Death” has been bought to me by a mailman. And shit, this was a sign from the ancients to beware and keep an eye open for something fresh and killer crawling out from Down Under! This MCD impressed me totally and soon I also got the debut CD “From Hell”, which fulfilled the damage. Beyond Mortal Dreams is a band, which I totally support and dare to say is one of the best underground / unsigned (not for long hehe) hordes out there at the moment!!!! Read the extensive chat with Pahl a’ka Doomsayer!!!
Hail there Doomsayer! How’s everything going Down Under? I hope you’re having great metal time now, with your band Beyond Mortal Dreams, after releasing such an awesome demo! So, put a killer album on your turntable and let’s talk about your music!
Hey there Astus! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Things are quite metal down here in Australia! And yeah, things are going well for us at present.
Ever since I’ve listened to “Dreaming Death” demo for the first time I suffer for great neck ache and really I cannot get this music out of my stereo. Wow, what a damn awesome piece of death metal!! Tell me if you’re satisfied with how the demo turned out and if you’ve realized all your aims? I mean, this music cannot really get any better and perfect than this!
Thanks for the compliments, glad we could cause the whiplash! Yes, we are fairly pleased with the outcome of “Dreaming Death”. The aim with this one was to deliver something with more crushing, devastating, and darker nature than its predecessor “From Hell”. I feel we’ve achieved this to a certain degree, but there’s always room to expand and take it one step further.
The demo contains four tracks. Well, actually there are three songs plus an intro. Tell me what the composing process of them was like, did you have a clear vision of how you want to sound and also what the songs would be like, even before the first riffs were made or you never plan anything and the songwriting is very spontaneous? Who’s the main songwriter in Beyond Mortal Dreams, by the way?
I pretty much write all of the songs, and the others put their little spins on it afterwards when we rehearse them. It was probably a mix of both, as the writing process can differ from song to song. Mainly, I will have a particular mood or an atmosphere in mind that I want the song to project, and I’ll explore various ideas until I feel I have the right kind of riffs to translate that. From there I’d work at it until it evolves into the monster I want it to be. Sometimes I’ll come up with a riff spontaneously and the song practically writes itself from out of oblivion! Lyrics are usually written after the music is done, but not always. Approaching each song differently can help give them their own feel and identity from one another, especially when crafting an album, or a live set even. I feel it’s very important to give the music a sense of a journey. It should be able to tell a story of its own, and inspire the listeners’ imagination, regardless of the genre. These are things I look for in music, so it’s this kind of thought process that’s the main influence in my songwriting. Of course, we are a death metal band, so the moods and atmospheres are going to be of a dark and destructive, apocalyptic nature. This isn’t a necessity for a death metal band however, but it is how I want it to be.
In my review I mention bands like Nile, Immolation and Behemoth, as the reference point for the readers. Would you say that Beyond Mortal Dreams is influenced by them? I must say that I really love the tightness, the brutality, intensity of your death metal, which at the same time is quite technical, but with lots of memorable riffs and parts. And the guitar leads are fantastic! I feel very impressed by your music! You seem to be very talented guitarist!
I do listen to those bands from time to time. I don’t set out to imitate those bands in any way, but I guess you could say they’ve been an influence on a subconscious level perhaps. I should say that Bloodspawn is the main shredder of the band. His ability on guitar I believe is quite exceptional. He’s the Yngwie Malmsteen to my Kerry King! Hahahaha. For me, a strong level of intensity is a must for this kind of music, as well as giving it the depth and atmospheres I mentioned earlier. Though too much can actually lessen the impact, as there needs to be a good balance in dynamics, depending on the type of song you are writing. Being technical is good sometimes, but I don’t like to be technical for the sake of it. The songs should always have a memorable, catchy feel about them that will hook you in, and then smash your head against the wall! You want the music to stay with the listener long after it’s played, that’s the idea, and so it’s good to keep a healthy balance of riffs that are more or less involved than others. I find that there’s a lot of death metal out there that comes across with the idea that to be brutal, it’s gotta be overly technical, be faster than anything else, and cram in as many syllables as humanly possible in the most guttural, or high pitch scream you can. Whilst I never deny the skills involved in creating this kind of music, it never really sticks with me, and my mind tends to wander easily. But that’s just me. Everybody’s gonna have a different perspective.
I actually think exactly the same! And what about that damn Beherit? You’ve covered their “Beast of Damnation” and I must admit that I haven’t even recognized it at first, maybe because I also didn’t listen to this band for many years. But does this kind of primitive black metal chaos also have some impact on you, as individuals and musicians and the band? If so, what do you think of the bands like Black Witchery, Blasphemophager, Bestial Raids, etc, which follow the path of “Oath of the Black Blood”?
Hahahahaha, yes, there’s a raw and very passionate ugliness and power that I really enjoy about those kinds of black / war metal bands. It’s an atmosphere I like to include in BMD also.
Why have you actually decided to release “Dreaming Death” as a demo, instead of getting more songs and doing a second full length? Were you just tired of doing everything by yourselves and wanted to find a suitable label before the second album?
We see “Dreaming Death” more as an MCD than a demo really. We wanted to start off small again after our long spell away and test the waters to see what kind of interest we could generate. It can certainly be difficult doing all of this on your own; label support is something we’d very much like. As I write this, we are in talks with a label. If all goes well, the next album won’t be another independent release!
Since Beyond Mortal Dreams is quite unknown band, would you mind if we talk also a bit about the past of your band? I mean there won’t be many maniacs, who would know it, but I’m sure once they all will listen to “Dreaming Death” they’ll be interested to know how did it all start!
BMD’s origins actually go back to the mid 90’s. It was pretty much an entirely different band back then. The only two members to survive that time were I, and Hellaeon (now an ex-member). The band dissolved at the end of the 90’s and we all went about our separate ways and got involved with various other bands / projects. It wasn’t until around 2001 when Hellaeon and I reunited under a band called ONI. We recorded a split CD and a demo, and got to play with some great national and international bands here in our hometown, and around the country. After 2 or 3 years, ONI came to an end, but Hellaeon and I were determined to carry on, so the idea of resurrecting our former band Beyond Mortal Dreams came about, and we went from there. From that point we started writing the material that would feature on the first two demos and “From Hell”.
I’ve read somewhere that Beyond Mortal Dreams started really as Suffering and even recorded a demo under this name, as well as played a handful of live shows with bands like Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Abramelin! Well, would you mind telling me something more about those beginnings of yours and how did it all happen that in the end you’ve changed the name to Beyond Mortal Dreams and recorded the demo in 2004?
Yes, Suffering was our name back in the early 90’s. We first started rehearsing back at the end of ’92. It wasn’t until ’94 that we started to play shows and record the demo. Things were quite different back then. Hellaeon was still drumming, but I was just a vocalist. In those days I couldn’t play a chord to save my life! Hahahaha. We were very fortunate to have known a local promoter who was responsible for helping us get some of those gigs we played, namely the Cannibal Corpse and Deicide supports back in ’95. In fact, the band made its first live performance under the name Beyond Mortal Dreams at the Deicide gig in Adelaide 1995. We changed the name from Suffering back then because I think at the time, just about every continent on the planet had at least one other death metal band called Suffering, so we wanted to be at least a little more original. Unfortunately that line up never got to record any of its material, and there were some tumultuous times and line up changes during the late 90’s. Eventually BMD was disbanded shortly before 2000, but as I mentioned earlier, it was resurrected by Hellaeon and I somewhere around the end of 2003. We wrote a few songs and eventually recorded the first promo in 2004.
There are three demo released which Beyond Mortal Dreams did between 2004-06. Tell me something more about them, what were they like musically, comparing to the “From Hell” CD for instance? How many copies of them have you spread and do you plan to re-release them sometime in the future, especially “Demon and the Tree of the Dead”, as it would be cool to collect all Beyond Mortal Dreams recordings one day!
When we started out again, we pretty much wanted to carry on from where we left off with ONI, but step it up a notch. Our frame of mind at the time was to make some solid, brutal Death Metal. The earlier stuff compared to now was more of a straight forward, kind of old-school death metal style. We were all about making it as punishing as we could, as well as making it memorable (as is still the case today!). The earlier songs definitely had more of a technical feel than the material today, as you can hear in songs like “Destined For Annihilation”, which first appeared on the 2004 promo, and later on “From Hell”. We really didn’t do a lot with that first promo actually. It was spread around locally and Australia-wide as well, but not so much overseas. It wasn’t until we were functioning as a live band that we started to spread it out a bit further with the second demo “The Demon The Tree Of The Dead”. Musically, especially with the title track, we wanted to inject a darker atmosphere into it, less technical but with a feeling of more power. This song I think was a bit of a precursor to the newer material we have today, such as what you can hear on “Dreaming Death”. Again, it was only pushed on a more national level here in Australia at the time. There were only 200 copies made, which sold out. It would be great to re-release the older stuff sometime, especially in light of how things are going now. The likelihood of that happening one day is not out of the question.
What feedback did you get on the demos, if “From Hell” was self financed album? Didn’t you get any offers from the labels for it or maybe it’s because it’s better to handle everything by yourself, as it is relatively cheap to produce the CDs nowadays and at least you can control what and where is going to be distributed and how many copies were spread? From the other hand the distributing possibilities can be smaller than from many labels… So, there can be as many positives and negatives of self releasing. How are you satisfied with the way “From Hell” was promoted and distributed, especially when you compare it to what the promotion for “Dreaming Death” is like?
The feedback for the demos was generally fairly positive. To be honest, when “From Hell” was first released, that was at the time when Hellaeon had departed from the band and the live shows had stopped. Where we are, the likelihood of finding a suitable and competent drummer is quite rare, and it seemed that the band was never to find a replacement. We didn’t really push for label support at that time, as our reasoning was what label would support a band that was pretty much now defunct? So really, it’s only now that “From Hell” is actually starting to spread out and gain attention. The reason we had self financed the album was simply because we just wanted to get it out there. True, we could control what we did with them, but of course our reach might not have been as far as it could with label support. We wanted to use it to find a label, but at that time, BMD was to fall into a new hibernation so to speak.
What were your main influences for “From Hell”, both musical and lyrical? I must say that I really liked this CD, great music! I was surprised to hear so many melodic and slow parts on it, like in the excellent “In Agony Everafter”, not to mention that awesome instrumental piece called “Desolation Hymn”. They show a great ability of yours to compose something more varied and not just focused on utter brutality, what I like a lot. How do you feel when you play such songs as these two?
The main driving force behind “From Hell” was just to make something purely punishing and aggressive and with a sense of depth and power! As I’ve said before, it’s always important to vary the feeling and structure of the music we write. It helps make the impact of it all much greater, and keep the interest of the listener. Really, I don’t think you can have one without the other. It does also depend on the type of song you are creating, whether it is short or quite long. Shorter ones you can get away with making it fast and blitzing, the longer ones I think require more variation within its structure.
I mentioned “In Agony Everafter”, it is probably my favorite song from the album. It caught my attention not just with the 12 minutes of the playing time, but the music is just stunning on it. Would you actually think that such songs, or “Desolation Hymn”, as something what can appear more often on the future Beyond Mortal Dreams albums? Can you imagine doing more atmospheric sort of full length like “Testimony of the Ancients” or “The Key” for instance?
Yeah, definitely! It’s another side to BMD that has been there early on and will continue to be a part of what we do always. The song “Dreaming Death” was written with the style of “Desolation Hymn” in mind. I enjoy music with great atmosphere that can inspire my imagination, and it’s something I like to incorporate into the death metal we play. “The Key” is in fact one of my favorite albums. I don’t really see us doing anything too atmospheric with the new material, but I wouldn’t rule it out as time goes on. Certainly there will be an atmospheric element to the next album, but it will be in context with very heavy, dark, apocalyptic moods, as well as a ‘space’ like element. All in all, I want to keep a balance of brutal aggression, with a darker tone mixed in. This is the vision I have which I aim to improve with every release we do.
I know that the departure of your drummer was one of the main reasons, why there is such a long break between “From Hell” and “Dreaming Death”. What was a reason for departure of Hellaeon? Have you found a suitable replacement for him, someone who’s competent and good technically and into this music or there’s a complete lack of decent drummers in your area? Is the line up of Beyond Mortal Dreams solid now, with you, Bloodspawn and Ghuul?
Hellaeon departed simply because his heart just wasn’t in it any more. That’s fair enough; we all should follow where our hearts lead us after all. The reason behind the gap between releases was because at the time, there just weren’t any drummers out there who either could play, or was into the style of death metal we do. Musicians for this style of music, especially competent ones, are a rare breed here. We all found ourselves getting involved with other projects, which was the reason that Ghuul had decided to part ways with the band as well. At the time it looked like that was it for BMD! I never really was prepared to let that be though. I have a lot more in me before I’m ready to call it a day! It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that Maleficus came along. He’d never been in a band like this one before, but loved the music. It was a bit of a learning experience for him, but he’s come a long way indeed. As for now, we’re a solid unit with me, Bloodspawn, and Maleficus.
How do you view the Australian metal scene? I mean there are so many killer bands – like Ignivomous, Destroyer 666, Urgrund, Vomitor, Abominator, Portal, GOTH to name just very few – so in my opinion the scene Down Below is really strong. It is characterized mainly by old styled, violent styles, so Beyond Mortal Dreams differs a little from them, don’t you think? Are you allies with any of these or other bands especially? What’s the relationship between the Australian bands like – is it quite cooperative and supportive or rather filled with rivalry and envy? By the way, is the scene in Adelaide as big as the one in Melbourne?
We know and are friends with most of the other bands around Australia. If there’s any rivalry or animosity, I’m not really aware of it. That kind of thing I try to avoid, it’s completely unnecessary. Whenever there’s a festival on in any of the states here, everyone comes together and generally has a pretty good time blasting out the metal devastation! It’s always great to catch up with friends from other bands / states during these events as well. I like to think we differ from them, yeah. I think that a lot of the extreme bands here are fairly unique from one another. There is a very strong old school / war metal style movement here though, more so in the Eastern states. The Adelaide extreme metal scene here in Adelaide is probably about the same as it is in Melbourne. There are not that many bands here in SA that plays the more darker, extreme death metal. Most of the bands playing regularly nowadays are the more metalcore-ish type bands, and thrash metal style. Adelaide always had a very diverse scene when it came to metal bands.
And what is your opinion on the most legendary OZ bands: Bestial Warlust and Hobbs’ Angel of Death? I’m a big fan of the latter especially. Tell me now what are your five favourite Australian records? I mean the albums, which you would definitely recommend to those, who don’t know the Australian scene so much!
Oh wow. Do demos count? Hahahaha. Well, I’m a big fan of Bestial Warlust’s “Vengeance War Till Death”, as well as the “Descension Of A Darker Deity” demo when they were called Corpse Molestation. One of the most legendary Oz metal bands in my opinion is Armoured Angel! Their demo “Wings Of Death” is my favorite. Nazxul’s “Black Seed” is another great one. Another Aussie album I love is by an old Adelaide band, Martire. Their self-titled album from 1991 is still the best of theirs that I’ve heard. Another great Australian band to check out is Stargazer, in particular the album “The Scream That Tore The Sky”. I could rant on for a while on this, but these are the ones that come to mind right now. Some other great bands to check out (old and current) are Misery, Cruciform, Destruktor, Mournful Congregation, Astriaal, Anatomy, The Furor, Mhorgl, Cauldron Black Ram, Psychrist, And Denouncement Pyre. The list could go on!
I have a feeling like Aussie bands have really fucked up situation for the live performances, as the distances between the cities within your continent are huge and what’s most difficult is that you’re also so far away from the US and European territories. I guess only the best Aussie bands can play a lot of gigs outside of the OZ, am I right? How does it look like from inside? I know you managed to play some important gigs, with the likes of Behemoth and Nile, so what are your memories from those events?
It can be difficult, not to mention costly! We’re quite spread out in Australia as compared to Europe and the U.S. I wouldn’t say only the best can get out and tour the world. It depends on how you market yourself, how well you network with other bands / promoters and what level of effort you’re prepared to put in. Bands here have been known to take advantage of government arts grants to finance their overseas tours too. It wouldn’t be that much different from anywhere else really, except logistically of course, being situated on the other side of the planet! Yeah, we were fortunate I think to get on those bills with Nile and Behemoth. It’s always a pleasure to play a show alongside some kick-ass bands. Behemoth especially. Their live presence puts them above a lot of others I’ve seen. Even Nile! Behemoth really had a noticeable passion that they project through their performance, which I really enjoyed. It made the music come out stronger and more convincing I thought.
Is there any concept behind the lyrics of Beyond Mortal Dreams? I don’t necessary mean concept as a continuation of one story in all lyrics, but rather the main idea for them all? Is it rather antichristian topic or maybe your band name would give an idea for the lyrics of Beyond Mortal Dreams? I’ve read some of the lyrics of “From Hell” CD and I must say there really have sort of strong apocalyptic, almost satanic atmosphere!
I want the music to have an apocalyptic feel about it, so lyrically it should reflect this also. Overall, the main concept lyrically is the same as musically. Dark and savage! There is some ‘satanic’ and antichristian content, but anti-religious also. Christianity is but one branch on a larger, rotten tree. I view religions as a fantasy story anyway, a work of fiction much the same as reading a fantasy novel. It’s a pity humanity has been insane with religion for so long. But anyway, the overall themes for BMD for now are mainly demonic, some drawn from mythology, others completely fantasized. Such as “Feast Of Carrion” for example, this is about a demon that feasts on the souls of those dying of plague. These themes aren’t necessarily something that will continue throughout our existence however. With a name such as ours, I like to think that it leaves it open to explore other realms befitting our genre.
Australia as a country hasn’t really got a long history; don’t you envy sometimes the European bands, which can write about their countries’ ancient or medieval histories, their myths and old pagan beliefs? Is such lyrical topic something, what interest you? I mean bands like Enslaved, Forefather, Ancient Rites, even Nile just to name very few out of the great number of bands often develop whole concepts on their albums. Personally I think it is great. What do you think of this?
I think it’s quite interesting certainly. There’s so much history for everyone to tap into. Australia may be young as far as a nation goes, but don’t forget the heritage of those that live here. We are descendants of the old world, so their ancient heritage is also ours. That goes for people of all creed and colour that live here, so I don’t think it would be that obscure for a band here to write about their heritage from a far off land. I don’t think it really matters that much really, look at Nile for instance. None of them are Egyptian to my knowledge, yet they embrace the ancient Egyptian themes obviously out of a genuine passion and interest in the subject.
You’ve played in quite few bands, of which I only know Darklord. I’ve got the “Obscure Infinity” split. This band was more black or black / death metal oriented, right? What has led to split up of Darklord? I think this band was quite respected on the underground scene around the world, so tell something about it and the recordings you did.
Unfortunately, the line up for Darklord that I was a part of never got to record the material we had. The band eventually split due to members passions and priorities lying elsewhere, as can generally happen sometimes. We almost had enough material for another album, but regrettably it wasn’t to be.
But the list of your bands is quite longer, what means you’re either so enthusiastic about playing music or simply have too much spare time hehe! I understand that Beyond Mortal Dreams has your priority? But what can you say about some other bands you played in the past or play also nowadays? I’m especially intrigued by Johnny Touch, which is a speed heavy metal band. You’re a vocalist there, what would mean you have great possibilities not just as a growler, but also as a heavy metal singer. What other vocalist would you compare your voice to: maybe Halford, Rock 'n' Rolf, Eric Adams or whoever…?
Yes, I’ve been known to be quite the ‘band slut’ as my friends put it, hahahaha. It’s purely because I love to play music. I wish I had the spare time to do more! Besides BMD and Johnny Touch, I also play bass in a black / death metal band called Oath Of Damnation, which also features Nekcomancer of Darklord on guitar, and Ghuuul (ex-BMD) providing the vocals and synth. I have a ‘solo’ traditional doom / heavy metal project called Born For Burning, which is in the style of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. You can look both of these bands up on facebook if you want to check them out. As far as vocalists go, I’ve been told I have a bit of a Robert Lowe sounding voice, and perhaps a bit of Bruce Dickinson maybe. It’s a singing style I’m still fairly new to, and I feel I’ve a long way to go until I’m happy with it, but its music that I’ve grown up with, and I’ve always wanted to do something like this.
You’ve made the artwork for both Beyond Mortal Dreams releases. Is it your profession or just a hobby, which you decided to use for your band? I must admit though that personally I rather prefer hand painted covers, more traditional ones, rather than the computer graphics, but the cover for “Dreaming Death” looks quite cool!
Thanks! \m/ Art is something I’ve grown up doing, but it’s more just a hobby really. Music took over in the end. I do churn out the odd cover for other bands from time to time though. Some computerized, some hand drawn as well.
OK, let’s finish here, as you can see I focused my questions on your bands and music only, without really touching any different topics, what’s quite unusual for me, but there simply was too much I wanted to know about Beyond Mortal Dreams to ignore it… Maybe next time we’ll do a more untypical interview, we’ll see. Anyway, thanks for your answers and all the best with Beyond Mortal Dreams! Hope to get some more recordings soon!
Thanks again for the interview! Writing for the next album is underway, so stay tuned. Stay brutal!!