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Misanthropia's Bram Koller: "An important lesson has certainly to be seen in the artwork of this album. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."

Interview with Bram Koller from Misanthropia
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 November 2020, 11:53 AM

Even in these crazy times, there is basic way of life that each and every one of us lead, however, not knowing, there is another universe going on, sometimes in front of us, sometimes under our noses. The underworld, one of the mankind's darkest inventions ever since societies started forming, has a lot of stories to tell, some that would horrify the normal individual. Therefore, there is a need to get those out musically, brutally and punctually as possible. The recent new signees at Massacre Records are the Dutch Black Metal band, Misanthropia, developing their own way on how to break it to everyone with their new album, " Convoy Of Sickness". Steinmetal had a good chat with Bram Koller of the band about the concept of underworld sort of Metal, musical progress, themes and more…

Hello Bram, I am very pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hello Lior, the pleasure is all mine, everything is doing well, we’ve been very busy last weeks to get everything done. It’s been a hell of a work, but we are extremely satisfied with the end result.

I have to hand it to you, even though we are about to discuss your fourth offering and since it was my first time for me listening to Misanthropia, Mafia and Black Metal, now that is something. I guess that you can say that you pretty much sealed the deal on yet another sub-genre within Metal, a sort of Underworld Metal?

I agree, we decided very thoroughly to do a concept like this, and musically and stylistically we are building around that theme.

Certainly you made things intriguing with your storytelling of tales that have never been heard of before, and providing these stories with a special kind of angle. Here you are introducing “Convoy Of Sickness”, a strong title no doubt there. How do you connect this fascinating title to the timeline that you are referring to in your concept?

The whole album is drenched by events that are violent in nature, absurd, beyond comprehension and what people are capable of. The title is all - encompassing. If you look at the album in its entirety, there is a sick parade going on. It comes back in every song.

When it comes to our way of storytelling, it is indeed true that not everyone has heard of these stories. We refer to events that are domestic, sometimes in very rural areas. There is a possibility that it was (world)news, but I think we are probably the first Black Metal band to write songs about these stories.

Coming to think of it, in particular due to this title, I find a few relations to the sickness caused by the pandemic spreading worldwide, now in its second wave. Is there something in it in your opinion, perhaps a kind of symbolism?

In my opinion, what is happening right now, has nothing to do with our album, in any kind of way. There is no symbolism related to the actual events. The concept and lyrics dates back to 2019.

I wonder, what were the main motifs that led you to the narrative delivered on the album? What kind of mischiefs, elements of the underworld that you probably read about came into reality on “Convoy Of Sickness”? 

The main motif is that we are fascinated by the events that occurred in the past. We read a lot about these things in the present and the past. The failure of the Belgian justice system when we speak about De Bende van Nijvel, the ultra-violence that was used during the assaults on the local stores there. We also included the brilliance of planning operations to abduct certain figures of the upper class to gain money and power for their own. The way a person becomes from early youth to a ruthless villain.

The first time I glanced over the artwork of the album, which can be rendered into pieces of information just screaming to be heard, I sensed that mystery, yet also the wish to unveil a strong moral out of it. What are we looking at here? I can assume that the column of people is mankind, but what is the coffin? Life and our very own normal wellbeing as we know it perhaps? 

A nice side effect of art is that every person can see and hear what inspires that person the most. An important lesson has certainly to be seen in the artwork of this album. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

Would you say that in times like these, and maybe if it gets worse, which I hope it won’t, the actual underworld is going to take its bite on the public and the administrations? How can you describe a kind of a dystopian future? Were you trying to signal the listeners something of a sort on “Convoy Of Sickness”?

Only time will tell. This album is about the past until present day, we cannot look in the future. The underworld lurks always, and lives in a parallel state besides the upper-world.

It is hard not to succumb to the King Diamond meets Cradle Of Filth sensation engulfing the album on nearly every corner, and delivered decisively under a wall of sound, crystal as it can be. However, I believe that there is more to it, a step forward in the band’s ongoing heritage. How would you say that Misanthropia progressed in its efforts through “Convoy Of Sickness”? 

We have a solid line-up, our songwriting skills are also evolving by the time, and we are not afraid of experimenting without straying from the main path too much. Thanks to a stable line-up we have managed to build a professional team around us when it comes to creating content for social media and live shows. We also spend a lot of time and efforts to purchase the right equipment for live and recording purposes. There is always movement in our ranks.

Other than the theatrics, and of course the themes, what do you think that Misanthropia additionally brings to the table with the introduction of “Convoy Of Sickness”? 

We want to deliver quality. We take the technical sides also very serious, because we are convinced that it is impossible to produce a record with the sound we want on only a four track recorder in the kitchen of your mother. We spend a lot of time to search the right guitar tones because there are a lot of orchestral parts, and there happens a lot in the rhythm - section also. We use high class, top of the bill equipment that works best for us. We don’t go for less.

Which elements within the album’s music, and as part of the songwriting itself, pushed you to your limits personally?

Every available minute we’ve spent in the pre-production, writing and arranging songs, building our own studio. Time was a big issue, because we all have day jobs and some of us have families to take care of. Also the time when purchasing some equipment and gear, and how to work with them, was a big time consuming thing.

Were there any challenges, or even predicaments, regarding the songwriting or recording process of the album? If there were, how did you come through with a solution in order to come up with the best possible result?

We ran into a lot of challenges, but we faced all of them. We aim high when it comes to record and produce music. The usage of three different DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations). We flew-in Mike Wead as a guarantee for a flawless workflow. As mentioned before, we have a great team around us, and this is not out first album. Because of all the challenges we faced in the past and the knowledge we gained we can endure some setback, and learn from it.

Mike Wead, once again as it seems, brought you the world through his engineering work on “Convoy Of Sickness”. Did he also have any impact on the songs or merely to make sure that the album’s sound will be top notch? 

Not on the songwriting, but definitely on the sound and the quality. This album was the biggest challenge for him ever as he is very punctual and spot on. You have to be a real genius engineer to be able to let our songs, of at times up to 100 different instrument lines/ tracks, sound so crystal clear and upstanding. His work is more than top notch.

One of the album’s strongest numbers is “Nicodemus Narcissus”, a melodic blackened stellar crusher, merging old school and contemporary elements of the genre. How do you appreciate this track? What is it all about?

I agree, this is one of the better songs, as it is about the first drug lord of the Netherlands. We have visited his former henchwoman Thea Moear, and received great support from her.

“The Eagle And The Hare” didn’t really surprise me that it was chosen to be one of the album’s singles, its dramatic flavor, along with the haunting melodies and captivating tempo changes say it all. What can you tell in regards to the song’s writing process? What made you certain that it would be the perfect single to represent the album?

We have thought about it very well, because the song is not too long. It has all elements: aggression, it’s very bombastic and melodic. Lyrically it is about the abduction and release of world’s famous chairman of the board of directors and CEO of a worldwide brewing company. This was world news back then.

Along with the conceptual and musical progress made on this record, Misanthropia entrusted their release to the German Massacre Records, quite a shift in contrast to your previous label. How did this fine relation start? What are you looking for through the services of Massacre? 

We saw it was a healthy record label, so we sent a pre - production of three songs to them. They saw potential in us. Even in these difficult times. Massacre Records is the perfect addition to our team, mutual contact is very good. They bring us a big step forward with the promotion and distribution of our album.

With live streams taking most attention, since there is no live scene at moment, what is your take on that? Will the band consider doing a show or two to promote the new album?

Next February there are two shows together with PESTILENCE, but we cannot look in the future.

Once this whole mess is over, where are we going to find Misanthropia next?

We keep on writing and evolving, creating content, and when possible, we will hit the stages again. As said before, there is always movement in our ranks.

Bram, many thanks for your time and effort on this interview, you escalated drama and theatrics with the new album, and I can only say that you earned another fan. Cheers sir!

It was my pleasure to answer your questions. To gain a new fan is the biggest compliment to get. Take care and enjoy our album. Cheers!


 



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