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Umbra Nihil

Interview with Umbra Nihil from Umbra Nihil
by Yiannis Doukas at 14 March 2009, 8:03 PM

The overthrow deep into adytum of the human idiosyncrasy of yours will surely find a proper soundtrack with the special music of the Finnish UMBRA NIHIL. A band with a clear underground aesthetics surely has a lot to say in most Doom open-minded fans, and their singer shares his thoughts with us.

Interview with: UMBRA NIHIL

Hi, greetings from Metal Temple. Congratulations for the nice moments that your album offered me. Since there is not much information about the band's lineup would you like to tell us a few words? Are you a trio right now and if yes what instrument each of you play? Did any other members were in the band since its formation and when exactly that happened?

Hey, greetings from sub-urban Espoo. Congratulations to yourself if you found the material pleasing! Lineup: there's one original member in this band. After the demo a bass player joined in. I've been doing the vocals after Gnoia. We all go way back, I think I met the others when I was about 7 years old. They were already friends back then. We choose to remain anonymous as our personalities are unimportant. There are some solos on the new album that were played by M.W. of AARNI. Tuomas Makela of JAAPORTIT brought some great vision to one of the songs with his ambient wizardry.

The production for The Borderland Rituals is impressing. First, how did you decide to work together with Devo for the mastering? Second how was it to record in an abandoned house? Maybe I had one track mind when I read that info but I think you achieved what you may have in your mind. What are your thoughts?

Thanks, I know some of us were under a lot of stress producing the album. We chose Devo because I was sure he knows his shit. He mastered a 7 one of my other bands put out a while ago. He also agreed to do the job for a reasonable price unlike some other people/institutions, which was quite important as the album is self-financed. If there is anyone wondering, I highly recommend this guy.

Well, recording on your own has its pros and cons. The best thing about it and one that is very important in our way of creating is that you're not limited by time. Downsides may include the fact that you have to study engineering quite a bit but it's not all bad to know a bit about what you're doing. The house itself is alright for the task as there are no complaining neighbours; it's located next to a tombstone factory. Mind you, it's a bit weird at times in that house, especially at night. The place was abandoned or left like it was when the inhabitants died suddenly, at least to my knowledge. It's a bit creepy and sometimes I see and hear things. Maybe that has more to do with my state of mind than the place itself though.

The recording process we've adapted is quite different than most bands would have. I think it would be interesting to record in a studio but it would require someone with a lot of money since we take our time. Recording Rituals took a few years. There are some very early riffs and things used on the album but at one point, maybe after a year or so, when we had most of it on tape, I told the other guys the way we are presenting things doesn't work and we ended up writing the whole thing again. There was also a crashed computer hard drive, some very very strange problems with the recording software we used, other computer related stuff and such. When we were applying the finishing touches I almost died of some strange disease.

About achieving what we had in our minds, I think we did, at least some of those things. We didn't have our goals set too precisely, at least I didn't. I like the outcome though and I hope others will too.

Inside The Sign Of Death you have an unbelievable ambient closure. Whose idea was and how did it occur? Do you listen to such kind of music?

Well, Tuomas from old labelmates JAAPORTIT agreed to contribute there. I really enjoy what he did with that song. The idea came from within the band, or maybe from outer space. I like to listen to music like that at the right

time.

The cover in a stylistic point of view reflects the unique personality of the band. Who is behind it? Does it have a special meaning? I mean the lady seems to be in trance or something close to that. Also what about the man with the animalistic face?

The illustrations and layout were done by Marjo Juutinen, ideas and approval coming mostly from the band. The things you see there are mostly in the songs as well. Meaning, well, maybe we meant something but the important thing is what you or anyone else find there. The man-pig, oh dear, what a nice guy!

There are occult references in songs like Open The Gates or The Sign Of Death. Are you into these things or it is a nice concept for the lyrical incarnation of your music?

If I had to choose between those alternatives, I guess I am more into the occult. By this I mean that I'm rather interested in the subject. I hardly ever practice ritual magick though…

As for the lyrics, Open The Gate was inspired by a Japanese graphic novel (can't for the love of god remember the author or the title right now) that fumbles around with the occult but is mainly twisted hard core pornography. The Sign Of Death is based on a book by William Hope Hodgson called House On The Borderland, namely some of the last chapters. This book is recommended to fans of Lovecraft, Hodgson's style is in a way similar although he predates Lovecraft.

Finland has a strong Doom scene. Do you like any bands from your country? I found some things close to REVEREND BIZARRE, what is your opinion?

Why yes, I do like some Finnish bands. Don't know how strong the Doom scene is over here. I guess more people are into Doom Metal as there are many new faces coming to gigs and some new bands as well. This is probably partially thanks to REVEREND BIZARRE and their success. I'm not sure if it's correct to call them successful though as for example on their last tour they travelled in the car I borrowed from work. I used to roadie quite a bit for them back in the day.

I don't totally agree with you on UMBRA NIHIL being close to REVEREND BIZARRE. This new album is the most Doom album from UMBRA NIHIL but it's still quite far from REVEREND BIZARRE. Perhaps some of the more progressive stuff REVEREND BIZARRE did is close to what we do, I don't know. We also have a better guitar player (laughs)!!!

I guess you don't give any gigs. Is it true and if yes is there a possibility to happen? How do you imagine a perfect live for UMBRA NIHIL, in which place or time?

No gigs so far. This may or may not happen in the future. Let's say I would like to play live with this band as the musicians are quite talented and I like the material. We're always on the lookout for more members; it's just proven a bit difficult to find any. Perfect gig would be either in the woods or in a mental asylum. Where ever we get the bigger crowd.

Your music reflects isolation and esoteric thoughts. Do you believe that man works better in artistic level if he is in such conditions? What is your opinion for the social patterns? Do you feel that democracy is the most prudent system for a society's combination or that patterns are worthless and humanity's eurhythmy is based in other things?

Esoteric thoughts, well, I find the world quite esoteric these days. Maybe that has had an effect. Isolation is good if one needs to get something straight in their mind. Other than that I prefer the company of women to get inspired. People are generally so different that it's very hard to say who works best at what conditions. Sometimes taking away something you love opens the flood gates, at least I feel that way. It's a very personal thing though and there's no way to generalize on this.

Politics, the word spurs up negative thoughts, hate and murder in my mind. Democracy is far from good (or reality), the best thing about the system we have here is that it doesn't stop one from doing most things, as long as we stay somewhere around the lines set in laws.

I believe in individualism, taking control of one's own life. This is why it bothers me when people, sometimes even ones that have nothing to do with me are, try to have an effect on me. I'm not very concerned about other people as the world is overpopulated with shit anyway, so I really don't care that much of how society is. The damage the current system inflicts upon the world can clearly be seen for sure.

Some speculations are inside the album about the opening of the gates to the other worlds. Do you have such experiences? Do you think that there is a possibility for such outer mind fields exploration or such a discussion trammel in unreasonableness since via logic you cannot feel things that annulment it?

Well, having spent some time with the effects of mind altering substances, I don't really think there is a limit to what a human brain can experience. Maybe it's not about a different world though, more like something that's in us locked behind door to keep us from going insane.

Sometimes I feel a Lovecraftian aesthetic above your music and I don't mean only in the previous album The Dreams In The Witch House. Like thoughts that escapes from the mind and having a shapeless way to infinity. Does inspiration find you in specific moments of it is complete random?

I get inspired in different situations. It seems to have nothing to do with the context. The others, well, dunno.

Lovecraft is of course a great writer but I think we'll try to steer clear of his works in the future since most Heavy Metal bands have at least one song heavily influenced by him.

The songs seem to hide a jamming substratum. Do you follow such composition roads or you have the entire idea in your thoughts from the beginning?

Yeah, we like to jam our ideas out until we keep them or change them. Sometimes no jamming is required. It's quite fun to play with the guys though and now I remember a practice where I played drums with a fucked up back and on heavy painkillers. That one turned into playing some CAMEL tunes. There's no way of knowing what happens when we start.

The start of Leaving The Body plus the ending of Sea Of Sleep are same with something like an accordion melody. Is it so or is it keyboard played? You put it that way randomly or for some 'concept' background that makes both songs stuck together?

It's good that you brought this up as I really like this melody. It was played by our bass player and it is an accordion you hear, yes. Those two songs were combined at first. I think it was first meant to be somewhere in the song, but after we split the song into the two aforementioned ones we found out it fits perfectly where it is, giving the whole thing a sense of continuity.

Do you have composed any new tracks? Are there any plans for such a thing and generally what do want to reach in future with UMBRA NIHIL? By the way, the name how did it come?

There is some unreleased material we recorded prior to and at the same time as the new album. Some of that stuff was meant to be put out on compilations and tribute albums but at least I haven't heard of them for a while. No new tracks as such, no plans either that I'm aware of. Our bass player is building a house right now and he said he'll include a training room/studio so when he's done with that maybe something will happen. The rest of us are busy with work and other projects so nothing is confirmed. You never know, maybe you'll see a new album after 40 years, maybe sooner. Maybe not at all. Not sure if we want to reach anything but a reach around is always nice.

Thanx a lot for your time brother! Hope to hear news from your band soon. Close as you wish.     

Thank you for this rather interesting interview. I've got plenty of time so if someone would like to discuss something, this can most easily be achieved by contacting us through our myspace site. Cheerio!



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