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MARTYRIUM's Count Mortem: "I am all about freedom for everyone to do, want, need and express themselves as they deem fit unless this is to detriment of others or society. I laugh at how one may put that very word in the same sentence as religion."

Interview with Count Mortem from Martyrium
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 29 May 2021, 10:45 AM

For those that aren’t into the underground Metal scene or are laying on the same old bands and albums, to complain about things is easy. People in this way prefer to complain about things instead of looking for good new bands. And the Maltese band MARTYRIUM can be considered one of the most talented Symphonic Black/Death Metal acts into the underground (what is a waste, because the band deserves to be known by all extreme Metal fans). As their latest release is out now, called “Lamia Satanica”, we had the opportunity to talk with them, and to know about their past, about their present plans and future ambitions.

First of all, I want to ask you for this opportunity. So, as we can get started, we can see that there were changes on the band’s line-up, but one of them is crucial: Vanja Obscure left the vocals, and Sandra Misanthrope came in. So, what’s happened? And how are things working with Sandra? And one: as in the past you had male vocalists, why the option for a female singer once more?

Greeting from Behelit on behalf of the Martyrium Horde and thanks for getting in touch! Yes, there have been changes indeed, and we’re all thrilled about them - Sandra already had a spell with the band during the live shows back in 2018, so everything worked out like magic when we came to work again with her. The album’s concept, the songs, lyrics and what was needed and required was already known to her, so it was even easier and better to catch up and work on it. She did a fantastic job and we’re ever proud of our newfound sister. The choice for a female singer came naturally as the songs where already structured and tailored to fit such requirements, however we would not have a problem to work with anyone who would fit the band’s ideology and gave the required input.

The first one about “Lamia Satanica”: why such name? What is the main idea about it, and how did it come to you at first?

The concept was explored and given birth way back after the release of Destiny Wore a Bondage mask – always looking forward for something fresh, a change, an evolution. Mythology has always been a great interest of ours, and one which we very gladly were ready to refer to. The tale that ‘Lamia Satanica’ retells is one of from Ancient Greece, a gruesome fable that embodies the grim extremes of human emotions and its darkest nature. We chose this story as the ultimate expression of a concept were the listener may venture into the realms of this darkness born out of human lore, a world long lost to the eternal struggle between gods and men.

 And what about the lyrics? Some aspects give the idea that they’re simpler and more direct this time than before. Are we right? And what are the main ideas behind them, the message you want to tell to the listeners? And by what I could see on the video for “Sacred Book of Baal”, there’s a thinking mind working on it, it’s not just shrieking words thrown in the air…

First of all, let me thank you for giving the material a thorough listen and trying to understand what it is about – the lyrics complement the songs in a chronological way to retell the start and end of a tale. Yes this is a concept album which has been carefully thought and weaved together with the backdrop of Lamia’s legend in mind, so naturally you will hear, read, and find something related to this story in each and every number. The thinking minds which you are referring to are the band’s collective ones, all is discussed, understood, laid out and finally delivered in a way that compliments what the band or album’s message ought to be.

As we have heard from your past album, 2016’s “Destiny Wore a Bondage Mask”, to “Lamia Satanica”, your music evolved in many aspects. Personally, the between Death/Black Metal influences became more clear, but keeping the Symphonic Black Metal aspects. It was a conscious choice, or anything that happened due the band’s evolution, or even due the changes on the line-up?

I would say that by conscious choice, we went back to our primary roots and tried to rediscover all that the stages that has been this fantastic twenty year old journey – this has been in a way an amalgamation of the several different styles and approaches on the previous albums, and particularly as you pointed out our love for ‘pure’ death/black metal has resurfaced  vociferally. The changes in line up did not really play a part in this - this is what we adore and this is the music that has shaped us, and we gladly pay homage to it.

Still about the songs: the writing process was done after the tour for promotion of “Destiny Wore a Bondage Mask”, or did you have some ideas before?

Being a full blown concept this time round and wanting to give the latter a more defined message and direction, the material for this album was worked on after the release of its predecessor to make it more focused on its story – ‘Destiny’ also revolves around  a common concept but was unbound and loose to explore darker fantasies, even musically as you might tell. ‘Lamia’ has a script, a tale, an idea, one that needed to be worked on as a and new chapter into the band’s book.

Going into the album, it seems that the band took the duties of production, leaving the mixing and mastering in the hands of Oliver M. Grech. But did you recorded “Lamia Satanica” during the pandemic isolation last year, or in some moment before the pandemic took the world? If yes, how did things work in the studio? It seems a hard time to record in such hard conditions today… And by the way, are you fully satisfied with the final result?

Oli aka ‘Sandmist’ did a stellar job on the recording and production of this album, one which we are absolutely pleased with. Yes, this was fully recorded during the isolation that ensued with the pandemic, and we may say that we found solace and refuge in the studio to fulfill our need for music, delivery and expression. It was a different experience given to what was a surreal time, so several new ways to work where undertaken to cater for the limitations of being able to meet more freely or work closer with other third parties like any band would normally do. We had to put more into this album, and we are glad that we did as the final result in our opinion most definitely paid off.

“Lamia Satanica” is your second album with Art Gates Records. So how things are working with the label? Are you satisfied with the support they give to the album?

Very satisfied with the support from Art Gates, as a label, they know what bands and fans need and can deliver them to both, so let me take this opportunity to thank them for helping this happens once more.

Unfortunately, the actual pandemic of COVID-19 made things fuzzy since last year. And many bands are experiencing a hard time throughout the world, because when things seem to starting to recover, a new wave arises. How are you working out in this time? Are there some shows online, or is there another form of working you choose?

It's a pity that this pandemic has hit out at our sector so relentlessly, and the live shows across all spheres have been very sorely missed. Hopefully this time round we have a good footing on the full recovery front and we can go back enjoying what we love to do the most by the end of this year. We are looking forward to that and get those shows up and going, but we meanwhile have a couple of online shows coming up soon so check out or news.

Let’s deal with a polemic matter: it’s clear that MARTYRIUM has a deep critical and philosophical vision about religions today. But in some countries, as in Brazil, many Christian leaders (and their followers, of course) are protesting, asking to open the doors of the church in a hazardous pandemic scenario as the one we are all living. They say that they have the freedom for it. So what is your opinion about such people? Of course, we know that they just want more money in their pockets…

Two things - I am all about freedom for everyone to do, want, need and express themselves as they deem fit unless this is to detriment of others or society; I believe that answers the question. And freedom? I laugh at how one may put that very word in the same sentence as religion. I will leave you to that.

Getting back to “Lamia Satanica”: how is being the feedback you’re hearing? Is it above, below or in the level you were expecting? And by the way: the album is really excellent, and I loved it a lot!

I’m very glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the new album! The response has been great, the reviews are very promising, and above all and most importantly to us the fans seem to love what we have done. Gladly, I’ll say the feedback received has been beyond our expectations, not because we did not have trust in this new release but because of the dire times and circumstances under which we had to release it.

 The last one: are in your plans some shows as the pandemic starts do decrease? And are there plans for a new release soon? This last one is because MARTYRIUM has 21 years of existence over its shoulders, but no live album until now… So, tell us about your plans.

Shows, you bet! We can’t wait to start again and to have all the ones missed in 2020 and this year reconfirmed ort rescheduled.. more news soon hopefully, so keep an eye out. Yes, there are plans for a new release shaping up and taking their evil form, but no official news for the time being. I personally love live albums, the sheer energy behind them is something I have always enjoyed tremendously - we haven’t got concrete plans for one yet, but we’ve talked about it with genuine interest.

For now, that’s it. Once more, I thank you all lot for the interview and attention, and please, leave your message to your fans and readers.

Many thanks again for this opportunity, lovely interview indeed  -  let me just finish this off to give our fans heartfelt thanks  for what has been an overwhelming response to the new album, and also for the past appreciation and support we received  and everyone that is close to us -  all this could and can only happen because of you. Most of all I wish everyone health and strength and the best for the recovery from these times, and on behalf Martyrium I wish you all to stay safe and be ready for what is to come.. hope to see you on those stages soon!



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Edited 25 September 2021
 

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