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Sentient Horror's Matt Moliti: "Most major releases just sound too “fake” and “compressed” to me. I think even great Metal bands, who don’t need studio “fixing” now, are even fixing themselves."

Interview with Matt Moliti from Sentient Horror
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 22 October 2019, 10:49 PM

It is never easy when undergoing the Metal journey. Sure that some have the budget, some have the mere luck to be at the right place, at the right time. After the demise of Dark Empire, Matt Moliti founded a new home for himself, in the horror scenery of Sentient Horror. Now with the debut, "Morbid Realms", about to pound, it was time to spill guts about it. Steinmetal talked with Matt, after over 10 years since Dark Empire, about the band, new album, Death Metal, songwriting and more…

Hello Matt, it has been quite a while, probably a little more than 10 years since we last spoke, it was back in the Dark Empire days. How have you been doing mate?

Doing great!

Well, Dark Empire has been gone for years but I guess that it is a forgotten story for you, especially when you have Sentient Horror going on. Slowly you guys have been gathering up influence and a fanbase, and you are doing it the old school way. Soon enough, your sophomore release will be hitting the streets, titled “Morbid Realms”. I bet that you already had the chance to listen to it, probably a gazillion times. In overall, did it turn out as you expected to be? No second thoughts about aspects of the album after you twisted and turned it from left to right?

Yes, I’m very happy with how "Morbid Realms" turned out. I think it was exactly how I envisioned it before I even wrote a single note. I wouldn’t do a thing different!

“Morbid Realms” may be rendered as part of a large wave of Death Metal bands that has been laying down the old school feel into their music, without really caring what is going around them, meaning the contemporary side of the Metal scene, which already became relevant. However, I have a slight feeling that you believe that although this album follows some of the old Death Metal icons, it has a soul and mind of its own. What do you think makes this album outstanding in comparison to the vastness that has been out on a daily basis?

One thing I’ve always valued in music is strong hooks. All of my favorite bands, death metal or otherwise, always had great, memorable riffs, melodies, vocals etc. and it's something that I think maybe we emphasize a bit more than a lot of other current bands, who might focus more on atmosphere.

Other than being a fan, which I am positive that you are, of the old school era of Death Metal, especially with you coming from the US, where it flourished, you also played a contemporary kind of Metal in the past, therefore, what further motivated you to head on and write this kind of material? 

I think the modern mainstream Metal sound lacks some soul that the underground has in its production and sonic qualities. Most major releases just sound too “fake” and “compressed” to me. I think even great bands who don’t need studio “fixing” now, are even fixing themselves. I like that the underground has maintained a production standard that feels way more “real” and not so squashed in the mixing and mastering process either.

While you wrote the material for “Morbid Realms”, and I mean in a more philosophical end rather than the music, what crossed through your mind? Are there strong messages that this album carries with it? Let’s say themes that would encourage the listener to now just bang his/her head endlessly but to listen between the lines

Not really. I prefer writing my death metal lyrics in the realm of horror/fiction. I view each song as mini horror stories. In this album I decided to expand the subject matter to include more otherworldly or hellish horror, with some inspiration coming from reading works by Clive Barker and HP Lovecraft. So it's not just the undead and slashers this time around!

What can you share regarding the songwriting process that went on for “Morbid Realms”? Would you say that you are the only songwriter, only sharing your ideas with your bandmates for them to help you execute or actually “Morbid Realms” is a group effort?

Yeah, I’m pretty much the only songwriter, although our rhythm guitarist, Jon, will show me things, and some of his riffs wound up in the song “Obsessive Killing Disorder.” Normally it's just me jamming in my home studio until I get some ideas that I like, then I’ll arrange them in logic and send the songs to the other guys for us to try in the rehearsal room. And then we will iron out some arrangement ideas as a band during that time.

In comparison to your previous EP, which was very good, which musical elements were provided with an additional focus and attention on “Morbid Realms”?

I had some specific albums in mind to draw inspiration from, namely “Left Hand Path” by Entombed, “Dark Recollections” by Carnage, and “Scream Bloody Gore” by Death, and also the “Kur-Nu-Gia” demo by Edge of Sanity. The main elements from those releases I wanted to incorporate into "Morbid Realms" were the rapid feel and structure changes, as well as including in almost every song the double time two-beat (aka the “Slayer” beat). I really liked how the majority of the songs on those records took drastic shifts in feel and tone all in one song, and I tried to emulate that a lot in “Morbid Realms.”

With “Morbid Realms”, do you see Sentient Horror as a band that sticks to its guns other than develop itself to other spectrums of Death Metal?

I think early on the idea was to stick mainly to Swedish influences when writing, like when I made the "Sentience" demo and the first record, but with "Morbid Realms", I feel like anything goes as far as my death metal influences. But there is definitely a vibe where I know it feels like “Sentient Horror.” The Swedish element will always be there, since it's some of my favorite death metal, but I don’t feel obligated to stick to that sound 100% anymore.

Which of the album’s songs do you find as the most influential, not necessarily your favorite, but rather the one that is deep?

There are a few. I really love how “Bound to Madness” came out, I think it has the most amount of time/feel shifts out of any of the songs. And of course “Call of Ancient Gods” as well as the title track really stick out as album highlights. And then I’m very proud of some of the shorter, more standard song structure style songs, like “Loss of Existence” and “Cemetery Slaughter.” I’m particularly proud of how the chorus of “Cemetery Slaughter” turned out.

No doubt that your team-up with Dan Swano brought only the best for “Morbid Realms”. The album’s sound is crushing, it has echoes of Death, Obituary, Bolt Thrower and Morbid Angel, simply a feast for old school maniacs. How do you appreciate Swano’s work? Is this the sound pattern that will also lead the band live?

Dan’s work with Edge of Sanity is of course a huge influence on me, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. I think he did a tremendous job on the mix. You can tell he really “gets” how this style of music is supposed to sound. On the records we’ve always blended the HM2 sound with a “normal” guitar sound, but live we always use the HM2 sound, except when I solo, then I switch it off. Right now we are using some clones. Jon is using something called a Wurm pedal, and right now I’m experimenting with the TC Electronic Eyemaster.

Have you already had the chance to play some of those wicked tunes live? If so, what were the reactions to your latest efforts?

Not yet, but hopefully soon!

Off topic for just a bit there. With the experience that you have now with Sentient Horror, would you say that your actions and decisions along the way were due to lessons learned from your early band years, let’s say of Dark Empire or you were always sure that you made the right calls?

I learned a lot about what not to do with Dark Empire. Both creatively and from a business end. So I definitely think Sentient Horror benefited from those mistakes I made, since I’m making sure not to repeat them!

About the promotion for “Morbid Realms”, over the years there has been a development when it comes to the means to promote an album. Which of the platforms do you find better suited for your purposes? Please elaborate on your choice

I’m really bad with the social media thing. I mostly just follow the lead of what my record labels suggest! I don’t know what works better. I guess Instagram is really popular now, but I think it's actually a pretty bad tool for musicians, I personally hate it. Same with Spotify, but it’s a necessary evil these days.

Though life can be unexpected, whether opportunities on the horizon, or mainly surprises that aren’t necessarily for the better, what is the five-year plan for Sentient Horror? Where do you see the band going? Will it knock on doors of bigger labels? Would it live the Metal dream?

My ultimate goal for Sentient Horror is for the band to pay for itself. I’m not sure what the “metal dream” means these days. If it means being on the road constantly, then no, that is not in the future for Sentient Horror. I’m a guitar teacher and music director for a successful music school for my day job and it’s not possible for me to leave that job for the amount of time that type of touring would require. It’s very difficult to make any kind of a living just being in a band these days, you need to be in a really really big band in order to do that. Or you need to be super young and still live at home or something like that. I would love to continue doing the occasional small tour run in Europe or maybe North America, as well as doing regional shows in the Northeast USA like we normally do. Maybe getting on some European or US festivals. That is something we haven’t done yet that I’d really like to do.

Matt, I would like to thank you for your time for this interview. Truth be told, you made something great with “Morbid Realms”, you are one of the reasons why this subgenre’s old school vision is making a strong comeback

Thank you!



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