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Slaughter Messiah's John Berry: "I think in general we are trying to keep our minds busy. Don’t take the main road, do not turn into a watered down version of a genre but stay on track and obligate the listener to focus at all times"

Interview with Rodrigue Soudant / John Berry / Lord Sabathan / Thomas Exhumator from Slaughter Messiah
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 10 March 2020, 7:52 AM

Playing and writing music for a cause hasn't been really something common nowadays, and not necessarily the Metal market. Going against everything that is trendy, taking a different path, even though not really knowing where it leads, or that the chances to make something out of it will take a while to bear fruit. Slaughter Messiah didn't really care, they write music and play based on their belief system, and they carried it out impressively on their debut “Cursed To The Pyre”. Steinmetal had a chance to talk with the members of the band about the debut album, dark lyricism, true Metal music and more…

Hello guys, it is awesome to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, I trust that you have been doing well nowadays?

RS: Hi! Before everything, thank you for granting me this interview. So yes, I'm currently very fine because our first album was just released today while I answered your questions.

After years of Demos and EPs, it appears that Slaughter Messiah finally settled down and issued a full length album, titled “Cursed To The Pyre”. I think the obvious question would be how did you know that the time was right to record a full length album? What kept you from doing that all these years of the band’s career?

RS: It's simple: it became an obvious thing when we finished promoting our "Morbid Re-Incantation" EP. All the band had agreed that the time was come to write and record our first album. This is an indispensable step to continue to evolve throughout the scene.

About your second question, I can answer by saying that we had some difficulties in the past like an important change in the lineup at first. Then we had to make a lot of gigs to earn enough money to pay the studio. Finally, I must admit that we were very slow but that's an ancient story now!

Signing with High Roller Records may as well contribute to your old school Metal vision, and surely a proper home to promote an album such as “Cursed To The Pyre”. How did the relationship with the label start? How do you perceive the promotional process of “Cursed To The Pyre”? Do you feel that a lot more ears are giving it a listen?

RS: We're aware that we're very lucky to have a deal with High Roller Records. Thanks to them for giving us a chance to prove ourselves. A member of their staff was present the day we played in Germany on the tour with Vomitor (Donnerheim - Krölpa). We think that he appreciated our performance because he contacted us some days after to propose to us a deal.

And we are very satisfied with the promotion! We already received a lot of positive returns through amazing chronicles, congratulation messages etc so yes!

Understanding from the title, there is a strong tie to the witch hunts and burning of suspected witches, such a crusade that had been going on in the Middle Ages. How do you find yourself within this theme, which has been having analogies even at present times? Of course, if I am in the right direction here with my assessment.

LS: Not for all the lyrics, we just wrote one song called "Witch County (Hills Trial)" about burning witches and this is a part of real history and heritage of the region where Rod I.B. Desecrator, our guitarist, lives, and this text has been written by Elliot Spencer our ex-drummer who comes from the same area as Rod. Most of my lyrics are based on real historical facts as well or just stories that were born in my head. I read a lot of history books about legends and all related to my region, most dark and obscure facts of course, and it inspires me a lot to write lyrics.

What would you say is the prime philosophy that leads “Cursed To The Pyre”? How do you relate some of the songs’ themes to the era we live in? Are there messages that have been crucial for you guys to send to the listening public?

LS: I relate most of historical stuffs, by example “Descending to Black Fire” is a related story happens in a palace in France during the “renaissance” period, “Mutilated by Depth” come from my twisted mind only, same goes for “From The Tomb Into The Void”, all depend of my feelings, most of the time when I’m inspired to write lyrics, I’m a deranged mood. The only message we send is Fear, Darkness, Death and the roots of all evil.

From the get go, and right through the end of the album, it appears that Slaughter Messiah strives to maintain its devotion to the classics of Metal, which are putrid and raw in nature, yet while doing that, there are also shifts to make things fresh, in an old school wicked kind of way. How would describe the process of evolution that Slaughter Messiah had while creating “Cursed To The Pyre”?

LS: It took 3 years to compose this album and your description is totally exact, nothing to add, we take influences in many different kind of music, for my part it goes to Rush & Pink Floyd to early Slayer and course passing by Bathory, Venom, Black Sabbath and Hellhammer, it’s important for us to forged our influences in a panel of many different kind of music, from progressive Rock to the most extreme form of Metal.

In the process of writing the album, were there conflicts or dilemmas between the band members regarding the course, or approach, that you took in the material?

JB: Not really. Even though I almost had to kick some asses at times to have the guys try an idea that I had in mind.

LS: To my knowledge, it never happens…we always find an agreement.

Which elements in the music displayed on “Cursed To The Pyre” do you find as those who were the most challenging to craft? Which of those made Slaughter Messiah to sound more or less uncanny, in comparison to the vast wave of Blackened Thrash Metal going on in the Metal market?

JB: For myself it was the striving to keep the rhythm parts interesting with the capacities I have. I’ll let the others speak about this too but I think in general we are trying to keep our minds busy. Don’t take the main road, do not turn into a watered down version of a genre but stay on track and obligate the listener to focus at all times.

LS: I would mention "Hideous Affliction", "Fog of the Malevolent Sore" and "Mutilated by Depths" are the most complicated and uncanny songs I had to work on, they have a different line than the ones used in the traditional black/thrash metal genre, you can find all kind of musical elements like progressive passages, and unusual riffs inside.

Even though it has been in the process of revival, how do you find old school Metal music still relevant nowadays, especially with the heavy flow of Modern driven Metal that has been clawing the market, while of course capturing attention?

JB: Of course it is. It’s the only metal I can listen to so there’s your relevance. It’s all a matter of listening in the end (let me go a bit short through the curve here). All the modern ‘Metal’ just not do anything for me (us, guys?), with all its plastic sounding, attitude driven and fashion thriving releases.

LS: Same as JB, I still listen and discover new bands every weeks (Months), and there is still many good bands proposing old school material, I never cared about Modern Metal is not my stuff at all, the market is over-flooded of course, this is a fact but when you dig it you always find jewels, news bands with young guys playing like in 1984/85…and this is what it please me.

Is the “Cursed To The Pyre” album going against the grain? Against the so called commonality of Metal?

JB: Yes, and no: There are still many bands playing real metal for the proper cause.

As an example of Slaughter Messiah’s abilities to come forward with a surprise, there is the tune, “Hideous Affliction”, which is no doubt one of the most progressed songs coming from a band of your musical direction. What is your appreciation of this song? Is this path to decide the next in line material from Slaughter Messiah?

T.E.: We are very glad of this track. It's the longest of the album, with a gathering of our sickest riffs. I think we'll keep writing music as we are doing now. But indeed, in that track we wished to brave the eternal night, and add some creepy atmosphere.

Certainly one of my favorites is actually the straightforward opener, “From the Tomb into the Void”, which also dwells in 80s Slayer type of melodies, smeared by a deathly shriek. Other than Slayer, what were the influences and sources for the creation of this title? How did it feel to play in rehearsals?

T.E: It's the first full song we created for this album. Also the first one that was offered live. It has a long intro to be a decent opener. Then thrash riffs, and in the middle you can clearly hear the AUTOPSY, GROTESQUE influence. It is a cool song to play, mostly the dueling solos in the end.

The sound production of “Cursed To The Pyre” presented Slaughter Messiah as not overly rotting, yet vile enough to blow one’s mind, letting the old school feel set its course. What is your appreciation of ex-Destroyer 666’s Chris Menning? Did he also do the mastering of the album?

JB: Yes, he did. We recorded everything with Nguaroth in the rehearsal place/studio. After that all was in the giant claws of Mersus. When he heard the songs he insisted on putting his stamp on this. And he, for me, is the logical choice as a close friend and skilled studio technician. He already helped us out for the previous EP as well. And looking at his history of musical endeavors you can easily reckon he knows our style very well and we needed barely no communication to let him understand how things should sound. He might even know better than ourselves!

Looking forward in time, let’s say five years forward, how do you Slaughter Messiah and its attempts to grow and develop musically?

T.E.: We're already thinking about the little sister of this first Curse. It is going to follow our good old receipt but we'll try to keep digging and make it even more wild! We already have some riffs swirling in our heads.

What are the upcoming plans to support the new album? Where will Slaughter Messiah be traveling in 2020? Any new countries to be discovered this year?

JB: As much as possible! A few dates have been booked, and many will follow but all I can say here is keep an eye on our FB (yeah yeah I know) page for further confirmation. We are currently aiming our venomous arrows at the Balkan countries, though, as we were not there yet and do hear a considerable demand.

Guys, many thanks for doing this interview. It was a pleasure listening to your debut, with hopes that the ones after it would be glorious as well. Cheers.

JB: Thanks a lot for your well-considered questionnaire, sir. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we do playing all of our musical offspring. Remember: Heavy Metal, or no metal at all!

T.E.: 666!



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