DAWN OF AZAZEL (Eng.)

– Hello and first of all, thanks for taking the time. How is everything going right now with DAWN OF AZAZEL? What are you currently up to?
Thanks.  Things have been great, if a little busy.  Unfortunately the way things have panned out the release has been at a bad time for me so it’s been a very busy month.

 

– You have just released your new album, entitled «The Tides of Damocles». How is its feedback being so far? And what are your feelings on the final outcome?
The feedback has been great.  Usually my experience has been that most people havnt really understood what we are trying to do on every release and while there has been an element of that overall I think alot of the response seems to have got what we were trying to do on this album.  Im really happy, the most happy I have been with any of our releases, but at the same time its opened up alot of areas we haven’t even started exploring with the band yet.  We’re pretty eager to get the next album done and are already well into writing it.

 

– All your albums have had a main topic. What’s the main theme behind this new opus?
The underlying theme in all our albums has been the will to power, albeit its manifestation in several different guises.  On The Tides of Damocles it’s in the context of resilience against  an unrelenting barrage of chaos, conflict and toil, embracing this as the nature of existence.  That which does not kill makes stronger.

 

– And how is it connected to the cover artwork?
Nick Keller did an exceptional job creating the cover art.  As a brief I gave him the lyrics from the songs «The Odious Tides» which more or less uses the ocean as a metaphor for the endless chaos, conflict and toil which I referred to above, and «Damocles» which is based on the moral anecdote of the sword of Damocles- with great power comes equally great paranoia, fear and anxiety.  As I see it it represents the tragic and somewhat futile resistance against erosion by the forces that would consume and diminish the will and the soul of man.

 

– Musically I think «The Tides of Damocles» is one of your most dynamic records to date. How important is for you, both as musicians and songwriters, to keep things diverse and interesting?
Thank you.  It is very interesting.  On this album we still retained somewhat traditional structures, and personally we are all fans of retaining somewhat of an old school approach to song structure with a large number of embellishments, similar to what you would find on say «In the Nightside Eclipse» by Emperor. On our material that we are writing a present we are straying from this somewhat however and it may well be much more free form.  We all listen to a wide range of music and at this age and stage of the game we don’t really give a shit about what everyone else is doing in metal, whether it’s more complex or simple, we just want to create something that is uniquely Dawn of Azazel

 

– You have really gone a step further with this new opus, and also have brought certain elements or approaches that could be tagged as «prog» without being really complex. So how did you approach this new album?
Again, thank you.  Yeah we’re not really big fans of say the Fallujah/Ne obviscaris/ Athiest school of thought.  Nothing against those bands, it’s just not what we are interested in doing.  The «progressive death metal» label we seem to have been getting lately is not something I feel fits us well.  We’d like to be tight and interesting but as you mentioned we are not really interested in making things as busy as those bands.  We’d rather add some unique and left field elements and concentrate on incorporating them into the dynamics of the song as the main consideration rather than trying to focus on technicality and complexity in the way that seems to be more popular these days.  I’m a big believer in giving things space to breath, and while some people what I have read don’t seem to get that it’s great to see alot of people seem to appreciate what we have been doing in that regard on this one.

 
– This is your first album in 4 years so, how could you say has the band evolved throughout these last years?
Its been difficult.  Musically you develop a sort of momentum when you are constantly active, as we were from say 2003-2009. Touring various countries with a variety of bands and going straight into writing an album builds on previous experiences and your sense of how you fit into the scheme of things when contrasted with different styles and cultures.   This one was totally different because we had none of that momentum.  This album could have gone a number of different ways and effectively starting over was really good for creativity in my opinion.

 

– In general I think «The Tides of Damocles» sounds more modern than your previous releases. Was this something you were aiming for?
It depends what you mean by «modern» haha.  We definitely wanted this to sound «good»- as in a decent studio production as opposed to a low-fi approach like say The Law of the Strong .  I think it has a much rawer edge than Relentless though, and that’s something else that was important to us.  We didn’t use any one else’s stuff reference albums when obtaining the tones and mix of this album and we really try to avoid comparisons with other bands, but I think alot of late 90s/early 2000s American death metal records are a good reference point for me.  Clear enough for you to hear the detail and what’s going on, but not the lifeless sterility that seems to be really prevalent in that same genre in 2015.

 

– I also noticed really diverse musical influences, am I wrong? Have you broaden your inspirations and your limits?
We all listen to alot of different music of all genres.  Id say that we more look inwards rather than outwards for our influences these days but for dawn of azazelme personally I’d namedrop Paysage D’ Hiver, Methadrone and Rites of Thy Degringolade when I was writing this one, but if you’d ask Joe and Jeremy you’d get a very different set of bands stylistically to those.  The diversity of our tastes and the uniqueness of the combination that is the result is what keeps this band interesting for me.

 

– The whole album is really brutal, sometimes even chaotic, but it feels everything has been really studied and controlled. Due to this I would like to know how was the song writing process for this album like.
This was the first one where we used technology to help out in a big way.  Believe it or not every other album has been written at home and then just jammed out in the practice room the oldschool way.  Joe and myself wrote our parts at home to a click and shared them via dropbox.  We then all shared our feedback and Jeremy jammed drums to them in his own time and at practice.  When we were happy with the result we demoed the entire album before heading into the studio.  I really think this helped us gain alot of perspective on the material and refine it significantly before entering the studio.  The result was better song writing and more time to focus on performance in the studio.

 
– But it still has groove and good melodies. Is it easy to keep a good balance between brutality and melody without diminishing the whole fierce impact of the album?
We write what sounds good to us and what comes naturally.  We love blastbeats and deathmetal riffs but also a wide variety of other stuff and we just want to brings some of those diverse tastes together and do something that’s interesting, challenging and refreshing for us to write.  What you hear is the result of that.

 

– For instance I think «Controlled Burn» is one of the most melodic songs on the album, and the title really fits it. What could comment on this song?
What I really enjoy about this song, and the album as a whole is how it is quite different to the others.  It has almost a traditional chorus going on and like you said quite abit of melody and emotion even, but not in the way that most bands would do this.  Joe really created something interesting and unique on this one that is still brutal and aggressive but has a unique character that contrasts nicely with the rest of the album.   Lyrically this is quite possibly my favourite work.  I don’t know if I can ever use fire as a metaphor again without repeating something from this haha.  Personally I am really proud of the way I combined metaphor, assonance, rhyme and meter whilst retaining a message and meaning that’s very significant to me without descending into some of the more cheesy and banal satanic imagery that is common in extreme metal.  Lastly it fits perfectly with the lyrical theme of the album and juxtaposing the water based imagery.

 

– The bass sounds more present. Was this how you wanted the album to sound like or rather a result of the mix?
Actually I wanted to go for something that was a bit more distorted.  Unfortunately my bass was lost in transit on the way to Florida.  James from Goatwhore very kindly helped out by lending me his bass as the were recording at the same time as us, and we weren’t able that that quite worked the way I planned.

 

– In fact you recorded, mixed and mastered it at Mana Studios, in Tampa. How was everything like?
dawn of azazel The Tides of Damocles coverGreat, this was our second album there and will not be our last.  I’m really happy with what we have produced there and we all enjoy the experience of recording over there immensely.  Brian and Erik do fantastic work, and we all find being on the other side of the world away from all our shit at home helps immensely with the creative process.

 

– You are hailing from New Zealand. Is it easy to play Metal over there? We know Australia has a quite wide underground scene, but New Zealand’s isn’t that known.
There’s alot of good bands, and despite the small population its not too hard to play locally, but getting out of New Zealand, even to Australia can be very difficult.  Most bands stagnate and break up before doing so because of the effort and expense involved in getting out of New Zealand, let alone to the northern hemisphere.

 

– And finally, what are some of your near-future plans?
We have a few shows booked here in New Zealand and Australia and will be announcing more shortly.  We are also working on a few options for the northern hemisphere at present.  Now that the initial album release work is done we will be focusing intensely on tightening up these plans in the next few months.

 

– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you for the interview, we appreciate your support Tania.

 

Tania Giménez
tania@queensofsteel.com

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