This interview was delayed twice. First Cyprian had to take more time than usual to complete his answers and later I fucked the things up, as I completely forgot about this shit! I literally forgot that someone answered my questions! Fuck, that never happened before. So, I am rushing my ass off now. I decided to put this chat online, so it gets more attention and people will check In Twilight’s Embrace music, as it’s worth it. New EP was released since this interview was done, I am yet to hear it, but I hope it will be as good as the killer “The Grim Muse” album. Check this interview out then, Cyprian answers my questions.
I’ve heard that zine editors praise you for your approach to the interviews and interesting answers you give. I must say that it’s more and more rare to see that. For example at the moment I have five (5!) interviews that remain unanswered since six or more months. And one particular band lets me wait now over a year to get replies for my questions. And of course they all keep saying “they’re gonna do it this weekend”. And still nothing comes! Well, I hope you’re not tired with interviews yet? How many have you answered already since “The Grim Muse” was released? Any from abroad magazines / webzines also?
Well, it seems that you have opened the door for a disaster by merely mentioning it! (Yeah haha! Maybe it was some sort of bad premonitions towards this long outdated interview??? – P666) This question now sounds like I sincerely apologize for letting you and your readers wait months for this to finally happen but a lot of private stuff has kept me from doing this properly. As you probably know, I'm a journalist and this means working under ever-changing circumstances, within 'flexible' time schedule, lots of stress, etc. Meantime, I do a lot of band-related stuff. These and other activities have practically prevented me from answering your questions. In the months after the release of “The Grim Muse” I have answered around 15 or 20 interviews, which is a pretty nice score for a small, independent band as In Twilight's Embrace. Nevertheless, here I am again, in for some serious roll of questions!
So, what is your approach to the interviews? I am sure that many questions are often repeated, some people ask trivial, boring stuff… Do you always try to do your best when answering them? You know, for example I never understood musicians, who answer interview using five words per sentence and one sentence for each question they’ve been asked. Why wasting time then? Do you feel comfortable when answering interviews or it’s just something you must do to promote the band and it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it just has to be done?
That's an interesting one, Marcin. I think it's an essential thing to do one's best when answering someone's questions. Of course, stuff you mentioned happens every now and then, but thereis no escaping it. I have just answered an interview with a really young kid, who asked some really rudimentary questions, but should I ignore him because of his age, not-so-big experience or anything like this? Questions keep repeating themselves, and will keep repeating, but it's pretty evident that answers to some of them change over the years as people do. We change our mindset, values we hold dear and reinvent ourselves. So all in all, I think there is a certain value in being asked about the same or similar things from time to time. As of now, there is nothing I HAVE TO do to promote the record. On the contrary – I find it essential to speak my mind to the fullest during each conversation. This is probably why I kept you waiting so long for this interview to be wrapped up. I could have answered each question in one sentence, each filled with the 'get-the-fuck-out-I-have-better-things-to-do' undercurrent, but what for? I, too, get frequently pissed off by some musicians who treat interviews as necessary evil.
I’ve heard it many times before that paper magazines or Xeroxed fanzines are a waste of time these days, as everything can be published faster and more updated in the internet. And with tablets or other stuff, you can now read webzines also on the toilet haha. What do you think about it? I mean, the same thoughts some people have about music – that the future belongs to the digital files, not collectable vinyl or CDs. Some even dare to say that – especially in pop music – it’s something normal just to release digital singles, not full albums, as kids don’t listen to full albums anymore, but make their playlists made of single songs. WTF?
Ha! This is one of these recurring questions, isn't it? To be honest, I do not collect paper zines as much as I used to back in the day. I read metal press, both printed and digital one. Printed zines are much more of the niche these days, as – we want it or not – the world around us is more and more digital. No doubt they also have a significantly smaller scope than things published on the internet, but on the other hand I couldn't imagine myself the situation in which metal community is devoid of its material aspect upon which it heavily relies. Printed/xeroxed zines and magazines, physical records, t-shirts and all the other artifacts are a crucial part of it. They all are craft which makes metal so different from any other musical environments. They all signify the passion other communities rarely exercise so intensely. The effort put into all these things is the best evidence that metal is something that people wear on their sleeves, find worth investing their time in and – last but not least – a spirit which cannot be reduced to a nameless digital file.
You do write stuff for more commercial medias like Metal Hammer. How do you find yourself on the other side, as someone who asks questions and write reviews? Is it easier or more difficult for a musician? Ha, I must say that the last issue of MH that I bought was maybe in 1999, as this magazine had nothing to offer me, but tell me how’s it going these days? I saw that Hammer has opened for more underground stuff, you even did Graveland interview, which is nuts! Graveland in Metal Hammer?! That’s the end of the world haha!
I am fully aware that to some Metal Hammer is a metal equivalent for Bravo, BUT it gave me several opportunities to meet my favourite artists and learn about a couple of new ones. It also helped me build my contact network, which resulted in meeting Łukasz Dunaj, editor-in-chief of Noise Magazine, for which I write most frequently now. Despite its mainstream orientation, I believe Metal Hammer can – to a certain extent – be a platform for me to promote some of the finest underground metal bands and introduce them to a younger, less-experienced reader. Over the years, I managed to feature interviews with bands like Azarath, Bloodthirst, Stillborn, Voidhanger, The Dead Goats, Massemord, Furia, Thaw and Mord'A'Stigmata to mention a few. And yeah, Graveland was there too! No matter how much I disagree with Rob's politics, I consider him an important figure in the development of Polish Black Metal. Period.
Don’t you think that if people were forbidden to use modern technologies for one day, they would probably have no idea how to spend their time? I mean, people can’t even talk to each other often. I see couples coming to restaurant and doing some shit on their mobiles, instead of enjoying time they spend together. And kids do nothing, but play with gadgets. Are we all doomed slaves of technology for good?
Yeah, that's the unpleasant truth, but I can hardly find a reasonable alternative. Perhaps escaping into the woods? We are so bound to technology on the daily basis, that we simply forget to enjoy life in its purest form. You sit in front of a computer at work and you get so used to it that you find it impossible to handle your private stuff without the Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat bullshit. Things get even more complicated when you have some spare-time commitments like for example leading a band. It's pretty hard to operate and reach new people without all the social media stuff these days. So yeah, the ugly truth is I spend circa 12-15 hours a day in front of my laptop doing my professional, private and band stuff. Needless to say it can beat the shit out of you.
OK, we’re moving too much away from In Twilight’s Embrace, so let’s cut the crap! I was sincerely very surprised to see that “The Grim Muse” is your third album already. But then I saw that the previous albums, especially the first one, were more like deathcore or however you call it. Damn, the difference between the debut album from 2006 and “The Grim Muse” must be huge then? Ha, I wonder if you’ve heard some opinions from fans of the debut album that they don’t like new record at all haha? How do you remember the beginnings of the band?
Well, we started under a completely different name. The band was at first called Over The Edge and played something which probably could be called metallized hardcore or metalcore, in the original and proper meaning, i.e. metal riffs with hardcore message. Bands as various as At The Gates, early Heaven Shall Burn, Arkangel and Polish Schizma inspired us. Not much in common with that poppy crap metalcore has later evolved into. Soon afterwards, the metal element started to take lead and it felt natural for us to change the name. Yeah, listening our debut album just before “The Grim Muse” might be quite a journey for both hardcore and metal fans (laughs). I know lots of hardcore kids that lost interest in the band after “Buried in Between” as well as those who just can't stand it. Things like these happen to many bands, so why should I be worried about them? Especially when I feel literally proud of the long road we have travelled to the place we find ourselves at now.
Did this change of styles came naturally, was it a smooth, natural progress, which you maybe didn’t even notice at first? How did that occur? You also switched bass for vocals, so how do you feel on this position?
It has been a smooth process, indeed. Since day one, we have been fans of Swedish Death Metal. It was just a matter of time when these inspirations would start to surface in our music. I think there is a certain logic in our progress. The early metalcore movement was heavily inspired by the bands like At the Gates, Entombed, early In Flames, even old Dissection. This has always been the music I listened to most gladly. Incorporating these elements as our influences would happen sooner or later. It took us a couple of years to realize it and I think “The Grim Muse” reverberates some of these traits. My switch from bass to vocals certainly played a role in developing a stronger metal identity of In Twilight's Embrace. All of a sudden, everything felt in its right place.
Did you notice any stronger interest in the old albums after quite a success of “The Grim Muse”? Do you think that any of these albums would have something to offer me, who’s rather diehard and quite orthodox death / black fucker? And are they still available, especially the second CD, as I heard that this one is a bit closer to “The Grim Muse”? Describe the old albums in few sentences.
“Buried in Between”, the debut album is a typical representative of mid-2000's era metal-core. Mid- and fast tempos, way more thrashy riffing with a touch of Scandinavian melody here and there. The last time I heard it was about two years ago, when Marcin from The Dead Goats, who claims to be a huge fan of this record, forced it into my CD player. I could stand listening to barely three or four songs, so I think it shouldn't send a single shiver down your spine either, haha. The second record, “Slaves to Martyrdom” has a much more melodic death metal feel to it. Hardly anything 'core' music-wise, there are also more lead guitar parts. Although the sound is perhaps not the most fortunate one there and my vocals could be much stronger if recorded a couple of months later, I think this has traits which later fully manifested themselves on “The Grim Muse”. The title track from “Slaves...”, the least melodic DM and the gloomiest one, is perhaps the one I am most proud of on that one.
“The Grim Muse” is quite melodic death metal album. And I bet that “Slaughter of the Soul” or “Terminal Spirit Disease” can be your favourite albums of all time haha! But what I like about it – and what stroke me from the first listen – is that unlike many other melodic death metal albums, this one is still very aggressive, angry, with a lot of furious and fast stuff. So, it’s a nice mixture of harmonies and vicious death metal. One thing is certain, Swedish scene had a great influence on you, guys. So, tell me, how would you comment my opinion regarding this album and how would you summarize this whole material?
Of course the Swedish scene had a great deal of impact on what we do. I do love practically any sort of music being made there. Okay, perhaps Sabaton are a rare exception, haha. In general, I am so enamoured of Sweden as such. There is something in the air over there that gives you a kick to make things happen. At first glance, life seems much easier on the other side of the Baltic sea. People are way cooler than in my surrounding for instance. Guys from Swedish bands I have interviewed are quite easy-going. Perhaps all these factors result in so much good music being born out there. As for the music on the last In Twilight's Embrace record, I think with every record we get angrier, darker and more furious, which is a very good thing from my point of view. We do neither slack off, get more 'listener-friendly' nor move in some lame-ass direction, just the opposite. On the other hand, the songwriting gets much more refined with age, which is also something I value.
How much have you advanced as musicians over the last decade? Do you now feel more self-confident about your playing and songwriting skills? And that also includes writing the lyrics.
A lot. All such statements of course sound like clichés, but we have just become more aware of the direction we want the band to move in. I would say the band has become something more personal to all of us, a platform to puke our own hell and transform it into something of artistic value, and a relationship different than any other. Lyrics-wise, it's also become something much more personal. I do no longer write about political issues as during our hardcore period and neither do I write about all that zombie, cheap horror imagery circus which I have been tired for the most time in death metal. All my lyrics are backed with experience, be it real-life one or something I read, learned or heard about.
The guest vocalists, especially Tompa, are nice addition and selling point for “The Grim Muse”. How did they appear on the album, Tomas especially? Damn, that must be a great thing for your band to have such a legendary person singing some stuff on the CD! And what’s next, a small tour with At the Gates haha?
All of these three guests are friends of mine. If you ask about the story about Tomas, here it is: over the years I have interviewed him for a number of times. Each chat was a quality time. I discovered we have a similar outlook on many different issues and needless to say he's been quite an inspiration during all these years. After one of these interviews, I manned up and asked him – not without hesitation! - if he'd have been interested in doing some guest shouting on my band's next record. This was shortly after 'Slaves to Martyrdom' had been released. To my astonishment, he was like 'Sure, just send me the tracks and lyrics. If I like them, there is no problem'. When we met up before the release of 'At War with Reality', I asked again, because the songwriting for' The Grim Muse' had already been finished. He was still up for it, so we quickly discussed the details, and two or three months after he checked in the Welfare Sounds studio in Gothenburg to nail his parts. And he nailed them.
I am quite intrigued by the artwork for “The Grim Muse”. How does it correspondent with the lyrical content? I don’t require a deep analysis now, but I also don’t want you to say that everyone must decide on his own what to think. Just give us a general idea about it. How did you end up using Robert von Ritter for it?
I've known Robert for a couple of years now. He also designed the In Twilight's Embrace logo! Bearing that in mind, he seemed a natural choice for this one. The lyrics on “The Grim Muse” are by far the most personal ones I have ever wrote. Growing up, you notice that some of the ideas you held dear or fully supported need to be reviewed. You come to a conclusion that reality is far more complex than a binary sequence of zeros and ones. Sometimes it's both, sometimes it's none. At a certain age you become able to see not only the black and the white, but realize it's the grey that takes it all. This realization came to me after a series of personal ups and downs, which were a valuable lesson learned. So basically, “The Grim Muse” is about doubt and disillusion. It's about hardships and overcoming them. It's finally about growing up. The cover artwork is inspired by the sower statue near the place I live. It used to be a symbol of fertility and well-being of the Greater Poland region, so I decided to play with its meaning. Our sower impregnates entire cities with doubt and wretchedness.
These days it’s rather easy to do everything by yourselves; record the album, release it, promote it… So, why did you decide to deal with a label, instead of self releasing the CD? Sometimes I think it’s better to have control over everything, especially as the results can be similar, if not better?! What are the positive aspects of contracting with a record label for the release of an album? Anyway, Arachnophobia did very good job I suppose!
We decided to team up with Arachnophobia Records because its owner cares about the bands he releases and is extremely enthusiastic and effective. These are qualities any band seeks in a label, so we are glad having such a dedicated person as Krzysztof on our side.
How do you see an importance of the so called social medias as a help to spread the name of the band and promote the album? Band profile on facebook and such have basically replaced the more traditional websites and became something common. YouTube became an important tool as well.
Saying tools like Facebook, Bandcamp or YouTube are not important for band promotion would be a lie. If you want to reach audience, this is the way to do it, period. All of these tools are handy and user-friendly. It's a simple way to communicate or get your shit across the internet. No need to spend hours on irritating things like html or java coding, so that's what I consider to be the source of their popularity. This of course by no means undermines the role of websites or traditional metal press, which we discussed earlier.
Do you think of In Twilight’s Embrace as an underground act, a part of a movement called underground? What is underground anyway and what makes the band a part of it and what makes it a part of mainstream? Can we even speak about mainstream and commercial matters, when dealing with extreme metal bands? I suppose that extreme music became more popular than ever before and maybe even more publically accepted, at least in civilized countries?
We consider ourselves part of the underground. Saying 'underground' I mean the community of people who share similar interests and convictions, the flow of ideas and inspirations far from the stimuli the day-to-day reality can offer. Perhaps none of us is a model underground supporter, because every member of ITE leads an ordinary life, but as fans we go to local concerts in our area, buy records and try to be up to date with what's happening in the community. Commercial matters? Is it a problem when guys do the band and get paid for it? If people want to pay for their talent and work, that's awesome. Does earning money on heavy music immediately make you a sell-out? Hell no. Extreme music's rising public acceptance is also something cool. People keep looking for something honest, art which transcends borders of conventional entertainment; are there for the experience of 'the other'. If this or sheer curiosity is what draws them to the extreme, then I find it something really good.
There were some important gigs performed recently like the one with mighty Dead Congregation. What’s your feeling on them, your personal satisfaction, etc?
Yeah, we played with Dead Congregation in December 2015. Right now we're just days before our mini-tour with The Dead Goats to start and we're super stoked before sharing stage with Degial and Vorum later in May. Each time we're invited to play with some of the world's renowned metal names is nice, but on the other hand we appreciate every concert.
What was the last album you bought / listened that you really enjoyed? I think I’ve read somewhere you’re big Tribulation fan?!
I enjoy a huge variety of stuff. Titles I have recently bought include Destroyer 666 - “Wildfire” LP, “Charnel Passages” LP by Cruciamentum, vinyl re-issues of “Exterminate” by Angelcorpse, “Monotheist” by Celtic Frost, “Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden” by Ulver and “The Ultimate Incantation” by Vader. Stuff I have really enjoyed lately features the following albums: Victims - “Sirens”, Ragehammer - “The Hammer Doctrine”, Destroyer 666 - “Wildfire”, Temisto - “Temisto”, Cobalt - “Slow Forever”, The Body - “No One Deserves Happiness” and last but not least Iggy Pop - “Post Pop Depression”. And yeah, Tribulation are fucking incredible!
Plans and goals for 2016 are…? I’ve read about the vinyl version of “The Grim Muse”. Nice! Cheers for this interview, Cyprian!
The vinyl version of “The Grim Muse” comes together with the “Trembling” MCD, which features two additional songs off that session and the cover of Armia. Both are planned for 25th May 2016. We're getting ready for spring shows with The Dead Goats and prepare another trek in the upcoming months. This will be a hell of a year, I'm sure.