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Negator's Steve Marbs: "It's always hard, at least for me, to write a new album because at the same time it means the end of something else. A feeling, a certain time, memories, you name it."

Interview with Steve Marbs from Negator
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 November 2019, 11:21 PM

Complete something new only in order to come into a final step in a long journey. It is possible that others may simply wrap things up and say goodbye, yet there is that feeling that the hunger for more will triumph eventually. Negator closed a chapter in its career, yet there is still a lot to hear from them. “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia” just hit the streets and it lived up to be a powerful ending. Steinmetal talked to Steve Marbs of the band about the feeling of ending things, contemplations, new label, songwriting, lyricism and more…

Greetings Steve, it is a profound pleasure having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing mate?

Hi Lior. Thanks for having me. “Busy” is the word I’d use to describe my momentary situation. Work, the Band, the release, several other projects, medical voice treatment. It’s all happening at the same time, but so far I’m still up to it.

Summarizing a storyline that has been hand in hand with the band’s legacy since its inception, Negator made it to the final cut with the release of “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia”. Now, with the symbolized story completed, can you provide an overall portrayal of the entire tale? What is the listener about to face when hitting play to start listening to the new album?

Answering this in detail would exceed the scope of this interview, but in short it can be summarized as follows:
  • Old Black: The old black from whose abyss we ascended.
  • Die eisernen Verse: The embers in which the sword was forged.
  • Panzer Metal: The war for which the sword was forged.
  • The great Atrocities: A torch ignited with the fires of war.
  • Gates to the Pantheon: A new path that emerged as the mists of war settled.
  • Grablegung: The entombment of old values and traditions. A tribute to the dead.
  • Vnitas Pvritas Existentia: The rituals of reincarnation. The quintessence of the path so far and the glorification of light.
So when the listener gets fully involved with the new album, which contains the lyrics, he is taken on a journey through the history of the band.

What is the meaning of “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia”? What is behind the title that made you decide for it to be the album’s title?

The core statement of the album is becoming one with oneself, in absolute unity, a pure existence. Hence the Latin translation of unity, purity, existence: Vnitas Pvritas Existentia

I assume that it was tough to write an end to this long journey. Is there any connection with the gap of six years between the new album and “Gates to the Pantheon” or there are other reasons?

It's always hard, at least for me, to write a new album because at the same time it means the end of something else. A feeling, a certain time, memories, you name it.

This almost therapeutic approach of course doesn't make it easy, because I, probably like most other people, have a hard time separating myself from good things from the past – sometimes even bad ones. But there is no room for something new if you don't break away from the old.

In addition, there is life itself. Five individuals with five different lives who have to become one to write something like a new album. That's not only incredibly time-consuming, but sometimes also overshadowed by other things. These things then have to be overcome and used as a motivation for something new.  Catharsis, so to speak.

What made you decide that “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia” is to be the final chapter of this part of your career? It appears to be that the thought pattern you have been embracing since the beginning, has been growing on you, thus eternally indulged as an integral part of your legacy.

I knew that this album would have to come in this or a similar form at some point, but not exactly when. That only became clear during the writing process. The timing and the general constitution of everyone involved was just right and here we are.

How was the connection with Massacre Records made before signing? Was it a mutual interest of both parties? How do you feel about working with such a known label?

Honestly, I didn't have Massacre Records on my screen. When the album was finished, we went on a label search and a good friend, who is at home in the music business, helped with the mediation of our "applications". So our album found its way to Massacre Records, who were passionate about it. The resulting negotiations went quite fast and so it came to the cooperation.

It remains to be seen how this cooperation will develop in the future. So far, however, we are very satisfied. Especially with the promo department.

Along with an interesting title, comes an illustrious artwork. This is something else I have to tell you. Who made it? And what were the ideas that led to this fine work of art?

The artwork was created in collaboration with three exceptional artists. The cover is a real woodcut, whose template was digitally created by Dennis Seide (Haervaerk Tattoo) from Denmark according to the specifications of Negator, then converted into a woodcut by Manvfactvs from Germany and ultimately finalized for printing by Irrwisch.Artdesign from Austria.

The idea behind the artwork was the pictorial representation of the album's lyrical concept. To go into more detail would go beyond the scope of the interview.

How do you find Negator’s musical progress on “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia”? I felt as if I was swallowed by a fine kind of progression within the world of Extreme Metal, serving it brutal, nonetheless, with an enchanting treatment of melodic outputs

Vnitas Pvritas Existentia is to us the logical and consequential development of everything we have done before.

Which musical elements were given more focus on this release?

None in particular. We wrote the album and were excited to see what would come out at the end. We didn't impose any rules, conditions or other guidelines on ourselves. The album should just come out of a feeling, not out of a plan how the album should sound.

What can you tell about the songwriting on “Vnitas Pvritas Existentia”? Would you say that it changed in a sort of manner in comparison to your previous work? Would say that there is a single songwriter involved or it can be considered a joint effort?

The biggest change in songwriting was the freedom to write anything that came to mind. Most riffs though come from Finnskald and all lyrics are from me. This has proven to be a good starting point so far. But because we included the others much more than we did in the past, the development process didn't only take longer, but also allowed a great diversity to flow into the songs. So in the end it was a joint creative process.

The closing extreme epic, “Rite Of The Trident”, I suppose it has nothing to do with Aquaman, is an interesting piece of work, it shares nearly every element that this album possesses, and with sheer quality. I could render it as a sort of synopsis of the entire album. What is your take on this particular song?

"Rite of the Trident" is conceptually the last ritual that once again takes up the main theme of our Trinity. Fire, snake and lion. The Three is the one constant that runs through the whole album. Musically it was never meant to be a synopsis, but a conclusion of the ritual concept. So it had to be "epic". At first I had a hard time with the song, but it grew into one of my favorites.

Other than “Rite Of the Trident”, which of the albums songs do you find influential with a kind of impact that makes you listen to them continuously? Please elaborate on your pick

My personal favorites are "Temple of Light", "Pyroleophis", "Et Verbum Caro Factvm Est" and "Rite of the Trident". The songs themselves don't have a special influence on me, because the whole album has to be seen as an overall concept. Musically though, these songs unite the spirit of the record for me.

With this chapter closed for Negator, which themes have you been considering as your next challenge or perhaps you would rid yourself of concepts, at least for a single album?

The next album is lyrically, as well as musically, already far progressed, however can and will surely change a lot until its completion. The way is paved, but nothing is carved in stone yet.

Before the album’s release, did you have the chance to introduce one or two of the new songs live? If so, what were the reactions to those new creations?

Yes. We have already played a few new songs live, but never with the focus on highlighting individual songs.

I trust that you will be supporting the new album heavily next year, what is your plan of action for 2020?

We want to play as many shows as possible, preferably in countries we haven’t played before but booking a show is becoming harder by the minute and if we can’t pay the costs, we won’t play. It’s a fucked up situation, but again, we don’t play to make money, but we also won’t play and pay money for it.

With that said, what can you tell of the live experience of a Negator show?

Come and experience it for yourself. Our concerts are multisensory and will hopefully stay in people's minds.

Steve, I truly appreciate your time for this interview. You have certainly raised the standards for an extreme Metal album that is well thought and greatly crafted. I wish you all the best.

Thanks again for having me and keep on spreading the flame.
Vnitas Pvritas Existentia



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