If you read my blog carefully then you probably have seen my reviews of Decaying albums. They are enough to proof that I really like this Finnish band. I wanted to ask them some questions, so here’s what Matias had to say.
Hellzzz there! Nice to have an opportunity to ask you few questions. You must know that I am very pleased with the music Decaying has been releasing so far and especially the new album has been giving me a blast. Tell me what sort of feedback has it been receiving so far? And how was the work on this album like?
Hails! Well, the feedback has been great so far. Better than on our previous efforts for sure, and that's always a good sign. Also we have clearly gained lots of new listeners - so definitely there is an improvement on every aspect. The work on this album was again overwhelming. We recorded everything but drums by ourselves, and I handled also the mixing. Not an easy or quick job, trust me!
I do, I do… I noticed that comparing “The Last Days of War” to “Encirclement”, the new CD is about 20 minutes shorter. Why is that? Did you learn that the previous album was just too long or you actually planned from the beginning that “The Last Days…” will be a shorter material?
Obviously we got a clear response that "Encirclement" was too long to digest, especially on a one listen. Also we weren't 100% happy with couple of the songs on that album: those could have been just cut off to decrease minutes. Most of the material on that album is really good, and songs like "Conclusion" and "The Hell of Verdun" will be shortened a bit when played live... So yes, we wanted to make this a better listen in whole.
I guess the question about Decaying taking the influence from Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Hail of Bullets, Pestilence and the likes will be asked repeatedly. But I must say that it surely feels like you’ve learned your lesson in the traditional death metal. Tell me what is death metal to you then? What sort of feeling, riffing and mood should this music bring according to you and what do you think of the more modern, ultra technical and fast kind of death metal, which I personally don’t dig too much, as it’s often just soulless music.
Yeah we are compared to these bands all the time. We have this certain vibe which is much akin to Bolt Thrower, and then many of our riffs sound like Asphyx and Death for instance. Because my higher vocal style sounds so much like Martin Van Drunen, we are very often compared to Hail Of Bullets. Now, that is understandable, but I seriously think our riffs and riff structures don’t have that much in common with theirs... It's kind of annoying at times when people blindly think we are a cover band of some sorts, you know... The aim is to make death metal we enjoy playing - our own original stuff - not just play a tribute to our favorite bands. There are lots of similarities, but what can one expect when we play old school death metal? Then there is that lyrics thing, but come on ... Wars and history in particular are way more interesting than singing about Satan or slaughter. That's how I see it at the moment at least. :)
When there is a faster riff - we are looking for this aggressive, entertaining aspect of death metal, which makes the genre so great. With slower stuff there is that certain heaviness, and with lyrics combined I'm trying to get people to think about the themes involved and get the "right feeling" to it. When it comes to most of our songs - there is always variation. Maybe it's somehow similar to movies: sometimes the action fires on all cylinders, and then there has to be a calmer part to compensate. A very hard question to answer! Anyway on "The Last Days of War" I wanted to give a right feeling for the lyrics & riffs together, and in my opinion I did OK.
Straight answer: I don't listen to modern death metal at all. Old school all the way, because it's way better. This newer technical bullshit sounds more like circus music to me.
I wonder whether any of the musicians from the bands I mentioned above have heard Decaying and spoke to you about it? For instance I really wonder what Martin van Drunen would say if he heard some of the vocals on your album… He would probably think: “damn, I can’t remember recording these…” hehe. I know you met him at the Hammer Open Air, how was that? And who actually is responsible for those drunenhowlings?
Of course I don't know who all have heard our stuff - but Alwin Zuur from Asphyx contacted us over a year ago, and really enjoyed our single song "Operation Citadel" back then. I met Martin at Hammer Open Air 2012. I had a "few" beers prior to that, but I recall we spoke about half an hour with him. The subjects were mainly about Winter War and this Finnish drink called "Lonkero" or "Long Drink" (which has gin and grapefruit soda combined), hehe... I'm not sure if he knows about Decaying, but I remember saying that we had "Encirclement" out. :)
And to clear any confusion - all the vocals
on Decaying albums are done by myself! These higher growls weren't the intention at the first place, but I got lucky to discover them out...
He, you definitely should be very happy about that! What did ignite the interest in the World Wars in you? How has this happened and what exactly is so intriguing in this stage of history for you? Personally I feel quite intrigued when thinking what pushed the people in Germany to do some of these horrid things, and also to push the whole nation into this racial hatred. It is something very interesting, this sort of mass national madness. Also, I often think what the soldiers and guards in death camps have thought when murdering and humiliating the Jews or Poles… I mean they were often fathers, but it didn’t stop them from doing these things.
I have always been interested in war history. I don't know the actual reason... Music has nothing to do with my interest in those subjects - basically I'm just combining two interests together in a kind of natural way. I'm not a strict WW2 fanatic, but obviously that war has been so well documented and written about, so it's easier to cover. Without a doubt most intriguing things are about Germany and Japan, what were the reasons they did such things, both in war and the atrocities, and why it all went so wrong... All in all this is a really hard question to answer properly.
I remember the movie called “Fatherland”, which scenery was in alternative future, in which the Germans won the IIWW. How, do you think, our world would look like, if this actually happened… let’s think… Hitler manages to ally with the Brits and together they fight the Soviets… hmm, Poland wouldn’t probably exist, but how would the Europe look like?
Yeah I know that movie. Surely it would be vastly different... But it has to be kept in mind that like Soviet Union did in early 1990's - Third Reich wouldn't have lasted for very long even if they had won the war. On top of everything, their economy would have been in a great trouble after the war. This "Great Germany" would have been a very unstable police state with a crumbling economy, only to be fed by another war. Maybe even more fascinating for me is to think about if Imperial Japan had been on the winning side, and crushed the US military...
Anyway, Hitler wouldn't have lived very long after the war, he was in a pretty poor state already in couple of years to the conflict... but for sure he had some megalomaniac and more or less insane visions to accomplish. One can think about what would have happened. After 1943 it all start going so wrong for Germany - and actually in as early as The Battle of Britain - the Nazi Germany's war effort started deteriorating.
Which events of the both world wars are your favourite? Usually everyone would mention the D-day, maybe because “Saving Private Ryan” and then the Medal of Honor game made it so popular. Which are your favourite books, movies about it? Do you like “Bond of Brothers” and “Pacific” TV series for instance? What about “Der Untergang”, great German movie?
Well, honestly I haven't discovered everything yet. There are so many events... To give an example - so far I've read mostly about Verdun, Somme, Passchendaele, Gallipoli and the overall things of WW1. As one can guess, I know more about WW2. I think Antony Beevor makes great history books of the Second World War, I actually just finished reading "Normandy 1944". It's really hard to name just some events - but right know I'm very interested in the Pacific War. Also the Korean War has caught my attention lately.
I have seen those series, they're great. "Der Untergang" is one of the best war movies ever. Some other good more recent movies that come to my mind now are "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Brotherhood Of War".
I have an impression like some European countries try to cover their IIWW history in silence, they don’t want to admit that they supported the Nazis in this or another way, they just try to forget or erase this part of their history. How is this in Finland? You allied with the Germans against the Soviets. Does being a part of Axis Powers is something people still discuss in Finland?
Yes, that's a popular thing to do nowadays. Also on many occasions the truth has been hidden and even covered with some ridiculous propaganda. It seems that Axis Powers need to be shown as total evil states, and all of the war crimes committed by the Allied (especially the Soviet Union) are secretly hidden. It is really annoying. Most of the people don't want to see through it, and just ignore the facts. Because then all might just look better.
Here in Finland people like to think that we weren't actually "allied" with Germany. We were co-operating because we required help to fight against the Soviets and keep the nation independent. Obviously we WERE part of the Axis Powers, regardless we liked it or not. But the fact is that after the Continuation War in 1944 we turned our backs to the Germans and fought against them in Lapland. Stabbed them in the back so to speak. I've heard nobody here complaining about what we did in WW2 - because we did kind of well, you know. Also in Russia their people didn't get to know what really happened here... :)
Well yeah, in Russia they only say how brave and good their soldiers were, but probably no one will speak and remind what these “war heroes” have been doing with civil people they met on their campaign to Berlin, especially mentioning all the rapes of Polish and German women is something they cleverly hide. Here I recommend excellent book by Antony Beever you mentioned above – “Berlin 1945”; really great stuff.
Now a tricky question, but what do you think about doing an album about talvisota – the Winter War?
I've given it a little thought. We have two songs telling about the Winter War already: "On The Path of Subjugation" on “Encirclement”, and "Conditions Futile" on an upcoming compilation album. The problem is that we fought literally in forests, so it's kind of hard to make varying lyrics for a full-length. I need to get a couple of history books and read about the subject more before proceeding to make anything bigger out of it!
Why do you think the theme of the IIWW has been fitted into the death, black and even heavy metal so well? What’s so special about this period of the history that it keeps influencing so many bands to use it as a special theme in the texts for their albums? How did you come up with this idea? Was it just an influence from Hail of Bullets, Bolt Thrower and such or something more than just that?
Metal music has this certain aggression to it, so that's probably the reason why war themes go well along with it. For me Hail Of Bullets or Bolt Thrower weren't the inspirations to tell about war. Even before I started playing any instrument I enjoyed reading about history and watching documents. It's of course easy to see us as some kind of copycat / tribute act, and it's kind of frustrating to argue about. It has been done before, so it is what it is. I just happen to enjoy old school death metal, and my interest in war history just fits with the material! So should I just write half-assed lyrics of something else that I'm not interested in, just to avoid getting compared to bands like to HOB and BT? The answer is no.
Good answer, especially as what you do is just killer; I like both your music and the lyrics A LOT!
Three full length albums within less than three years… well, your head must be exploding with ideas, but why such a rush? Does that mean that the fourth CD will be out next year hehe? And also, I wonder how do you personally value the evolution Decaying went through since its inception up to the grand “The Last Days of War”?
Our first album, “Devastate”, was a demo compilation - we didn't actually record anything new on that one. But yeah, it's still three albums in three years (or actually 2 years when looking at the release dates). That's fast, I know. And it surely feels like it! I'm really busy all the time, having very little rest with these music things. When new, proper ideas pop out, I want to get them released asap, so maybe that is the "problem".
In my opinion the music has evolved with every release. I feel like we are getting better and better. There is no estimate when we have our next release out. First and foremost the material has to be top notch and the budget in order. Also
we can finally start doing shows soon, so having a rapid pace with rehearsals will greatly affect the speed of composing..
I understand that so far you’ve been the main composer of the music for all Decaying album. Can you describe how does the songwriting process look like? Do you just come up with several riffs, record them on computer and then think if you can use them into a song or the whole process is more spontaneous? What about the rest of the band? What’s their contribution into your music?
Yes, I'm the main composer and lyricist. There are only couple of other songs (appearing on “Encirclement” and “The Last Days of War”) which have been partly or fully composed by our guitarist Henri. For Decaying both Henri and I do it the same way. Basically we figure out the riffs and song structures at home. The riffs are written down and/or recorded, and laid in a proper song structure. We then use a drum machine to show the stuff to our drummer Benjam - who of course makes them his own and adds this and that. Decaying has been a full band less than a year (bassist Sebastian joined us late 2012). When we started the band with Otu (ex-guitarist), it was just a two-man project without a rehearsal place. So things have definitely changed a bit.
“The Last Days of War” was fully composed (excluding "Preparation") during the weekends of the first half of 2012. I was going through military conscription here in Finland, and was home only on weekends. So I did it all on my computer. And always in hangover, by the way. It was kind of cruel, hehe.
Yeah, we’re all OBSESSED BY CRUELTY!
In my opinion production and songwriting have improved colossally! I almost cannot believe that it (“The Last Days of War”) hasn’t been recorded in any of the famous studios, but is a home recording. Tell me how have you achieved this and is the sound exactly which you wanted to have? What other productions has been an influence for you, when obtaining this sound?
Thanks for the compliments! Yes, everything else was done with home / rehearsal equipment except the drum tracks, which were recorded at D-Studio. It required lots of hard work and figuring out the time table by ourselves. Also it caused lots of stress, because I had to go to the school at the same time.
Basically it all comes down to the motivation and ability to do this kind of stuff. There has to be some background before mixing or producing an album. I think the result is nice. It's not perfect, but sounds old school to the bone. There aren't many things I would want to sound different.
Well, so many influences... I wanted it to sound as natural & raw as possible, have this heavy metallish vibe, and on top of that some traditional doom mixed in. And mainly it had to sound like a death metal album. No overcompression or overproduction ! Crank up the volume and enjoy the beating!!
So far you keep releasing your music through Hellthrasher Productions, which is a great label, in my opinion, so I guess you must feel quite happy with the work they do for Decaying. I wonder what sort of contract do you have: is it a verbal agreement or a document signed with blood in the fullmoon night, at the cemetery hehe? No, seriously, what do you think of Hellthrasher and their work, their releases… and what do you think of Poland, mate? Mind your words here, as I’m Polish also hehe!
Hellthrasher found us out somehow in early 2011. I have no clue whatsoever how they managed to do that. I had uploaded some songs to Youtube and Myspace though... From the early on it has been a very smooth experience. We have only spoken through internet, so you could call it a verbal agreement, but in this scene good labels can be trusted! "Devastate" was their first release actually as a label I think, and they have grown A LOT lately. I don't like all of the releases, but most of them are quite good - like Resurgency and Escarnium. Will see what happens in the future...
I haven't visited Poland yet, but would love to. You seem to have a strong underground metal scene over there as well. Also some very interesting historical sites to visit for sure.
Start with Malbork (the greatest Teutonic castle!), then visit Wolfschanze, Auschwitz and so many more!
OK, I have two more questions to ask and we’ll finish this interview… First one is more relaxed. I just wanna ask you about the Finnish death metal scene, especially the one from the early 90’s. What do you think about it and the death metal bands from that time? Personally I think that the scene was very strong, but what I don’t like is the fact that most of the bands have changed their style drastically after only one album, just to mention Xysma, Disgrace and Convulse. What do you think about these changes? Which are your favourite Finnish death metal releases? What do you think about bands like Vomiturition and Purtenance?
Yeah, there were many good bands, like those you mentioned. Perhaps the first album(s) from Sentenced and Amorphis work the best for me. But I'm not too overly enthusiastic about the scene. There is no nostalgia factor to me either. But good stuff anyways! It's unfortunate that many of the bands turned to more or less shitty, and broke up. Now it's the time for reunions, it seems. Convulse for example is doing pretty good nowadays. Maybe the favorite CD would be Amorphis' "Tales From The Thousand Lakes".
And finally this is my last questions, very typical one to finish the interview… and it is about the future plans of Decaying! Thanks for your time and your answers, all the best!
It's finally time for shows later this year, here in Finland and abroad. That's the plan. Now we're aiming to rehearse the material properly. I have also currently some work going on with my other band "Altar Of Betelgeuze" - debut full-length coming later this year via Memento Mori Records. Job & two bands combined mean a very busy summer for me.
Also new material is slowly forming up for Decaying...
Lot's of stuff in this interview, so cheers and hails!
My pleasure, I am happy to have Decaying here in this blog! All the best!