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Nomenmortis are an important piece of the Eastern European underground, the Slovak formation has decided to put an end, with the swan song "Forget Arcadia" (in the site you will find the review), to a long journey that lasted two decades. Martin with us today, the only founding member left in the today line-up with which we will learn more about this reality.
Welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you?
Martin: Hello Gabriele and readers of Aristocrazia, I am fine, although I get cold and have quite sore throat, no wonder in these cold and windy (the city I live in is especially known for harsh northern winds) days. My job for today is done, so I start to answer your questions.
Let's start from the beginning, who were the Nomenmortis when they were born in 1992 and who have become over the years?
In 1992 we were three, then five guys who wanted and tried to play death metal. We were just the beginners, when we started the band, but after a lot of rehearsals, long for five – six hours quite often, it started to sound more or less promising. Over the years we become to be one of the most extreme brutal death/grind bands here in central Europe, very underground, but quite high rated and known in world extreme metal underground, this is what we are proud of.
There have been times when you have felt all the weight of the band around on your shoulders? You're the only one who was present in all releases and not abandoning the boat, as it was take it forward?
Of course there were quite a hard times from time to time, especially when major line-up changes came as the topics of the day. Sometimes I fought really hard to go the next steps forward, but I believed in Nomenmortis really much, so I preferred to fight against all these obstacles rather than to quit, because I was doing it also for the people playing with me. You know, no one was forcing me to do that, I just wanted to have more of the music I like. This is the main musical idea of Nomenmortis – the music I want listen to, but with no chance to buy it somewhere, so I have to create it with the most competent people/friends I am able to gather? I am here since the very beginnings, but I consider Adam, the guitarist, for the most important member also, because he is here for ten years, with four recordings done for the band.
Why now the choice to say goodbye to the metal world or better, to say goodbye to Nomenmortis?
It's not that much like a total goodbye, it's better to say that Nomenmortis is going on well deserved and fought retire. I feel, that all that had to be done musically/lyrically/artistically was already done with our actual CD and I don't feel that much motivation to do something more, not for the present times or for the nearer future at least. I feel a lot of exhausted with caring of large amount of band-connected things, as well as I feel that my best times as the vocalist are past. So I think is better to stop the active playing now, when we are on our top, and leave that carousel of playing the shows, recording etc., staying firmly on our foot and proudly looking at all we have done during the years. The possible downhill way is nothing that the world needs to see from us? Plus we naturally haven't time and money enough to do the band for 100% — some of us have families, relationships, we have jobs to care about a lot, bills we must pay, the things naturally coming as you are getting older, so it's better to concentrate on a bit different aspects of live and enjoy the interest in our music as good as it gets.
Along with bands like Perversity and Dementor, you are icons of your extreme scene, from a musical standpoint as have you saw grow your country? And why, despite having excellent potential, you have always had a lower exposure than the neighboring Poland?
Thank you for such a compliment, we are certainly very underground act, not that prominent like Dementor and couple of others in Slovakia, but as we are for the extreme ears only, we are fine with that, feeling more like a part of world UG, not only the Slovak/Czech scene. As for the music I can say, that death metal was always the strongest and best developed genre in Slovakia, when it comes to metal, especially in Nineties and is over the average even in the mantinels of world's scene, not in some stupid local criteria, still preferred by a bunch of domestic journalists. It's similar like grind core in Czech for example. Speaking of potential, the truth is, that musicians in Poland tend to work way harder on being known as much as possible, despite of the similar financial background and the other thingy you need to fight properly on this field. Poles are way tougher warriors, too much of Slovaks became defeatists, when they feel their success is coming later than they expected/wanted. And a lot of people playing metal here in general are big mouths and internet heroes, but with no proofs of something to defend their ego. Still, we have more than a couple of hard working bands, known in the metal world at least on underground level, playing Europen tours etc., not that band for quite a small country.
"Forget Arcadia" is a rich gift that you do to who have followed you so far, an album that contains part of another never released record, "Loathspells", what happened in that period? Why the album was never released?
Nothing tragic, we had two or three labels more or less interesting in this release. But most of the negotiations were quite vague, all that process was taking too much time, during which we already re-worked about half of the "Loathspells" songs, while playing that stuff live. In fact we felt, that we improved them a lot, and, according the fact that the recording of Loathspells" was a bit hurried-up (we played with our new drummer for about six months), because we expected another timeout and needed to have the new album recorded before that, we felt, that lot of the stuff could be done better, so we had quit the idea of releasing it. This timeout took only four months in the end, then we started to play live, improved a lot of the old songs, did about seven – eight new ones, and decided to re-record the improved songs with the new ones as "Forget Arcadia" and add six of the best done songs from "Loathspells" as bonus tracks.
The back of the booklet is the cover of "Loathspells", was therefore a perfect marriage and the most suitable way to make sense to those pieces incorporated as part of "Forget Arcadia"?
The person responsible for pictorial materials used on our releases was always me myself. But Adam, without letting me know, asked one girl studying the painting in Prague, to do some cover for "Loathspells". I was quite hard against using something else than my artwork, but as the situation turned into releasing "Forget Arcadia" and using some part of "Loathspells" as bonus, and after I saw what Alica has done, I decided to use my cover for "Forget Arcadia", and hers for the bonus part. Her work looks a bit different, unsual for us but interesting, a bit artistic and I think it was good idea to do the cover this way.
Twenty-one songs that "stink" nicely of nineties, your approach is not significantly changed compared to works like "The Day You'll Lose Your Head" that looks like a figment of the minds of early Morbid Angel, the grindcore roots of bands like Brutal Truth; I maybe coming up with other names, but the thing that always struck me as odd is that you almost always have you removed from the European way of playing to embrace a more American way of playing, it's just my feeling or is there a preference for that type of "death" will?
Me and Adam started with the thrash and black metal from the Eighties, and we of course also have some knowledge in older music like Seventies hard rock or NWOBHM, and Motörhead are the grandfathers of extreme metal of course, but most of our musical taste was formed in the Nineties, with death metal, a lot of grind core, some black and doom metal and various hardcore music. Neptun is more into black and death metal, but with all these roots we fit each other very well. Nomenmortis was never following some narrow path of American or European way of playing death metal. The bottom line is – if it sounds good and brutal, extreme enough, and if it isn't copying some certain band, we use it regardless of that if it is more American or European death metal, if it is grind core, or black/thrash metal. The main goal is brutality and at least a bit of originality. If it sounds more American than European to someone, I am ok with that point of view.
The cover of your discs have always had a homemade style, why this choice? Who cared to the cover of "Forget Arcadia"? What is the meaning behind it?
As I told above, I always wanted to have as much originality in Nomenmortis as it was possible, not only in the music, but also in other aspects like artworks. In this point I am a bit of oldschool and prefer to have drawn/paint covers more than that so generic Photoshop art usual for most of nowadays extreme metal releases. I think these rawly drawn pictures with furious red background depicts our music quite well, and, last, but no least, you will notice our albums on the distro tables among all these dark tuned generic airbrushes with similar green splattered logos very soon, [laughs]. Speaking about the meaning, the main point is the atmosphere of doom, decay, punishment and terror, with some elements connected to some song themes, so you have Mongolian warrior there, as well as gallows and wheels, figure of Death, some less concrete figures of ghouls, monsters – including the flying one, that should be described as some hybrid of Cthulhu and Beast from Apoocalypse (the Beast of seven heads and ten horns). And we are probably the only extreme metal with magpie on the cover, [laughs].
Why have you decide to re-record "1598 – Christmas With The Deathriders"?
Adam came with this idea right in studio, we tried to re-recorded some older song we never played live in actual line-up. It took about twenty minutes to record the drums, which speaks for Neptun's skill itself, and the final version really killed. There were some more sound samples planned, but these with Araucanian (Mapuche) native horns and drums, as well as sound of the battle didn't work in studio, so we used only the rattles and gore whip/cut sound there.
Your lyrics, but always speaking of brutal acts, more than once are inspired by historical patterns, "1598 – Christmas With The Deathriders" speaks of the period of the Spanish conquests in South America, others seems stories passed down orally like "Melchior The Shooter" and "Deathriders Of Temur Tenger Etseg" and others like "Born On Samhain" are connected with deities. You are the writers of almost all lyrics, what were the research or ideas from which to start to shape them?
I always liked to read and study any themes interesting for me, it also means a lot of history, which is a great source of inspiration for the extreme music too, it's a bit different and more interesting gory stuff that the usual one. I had quite serious library, and also the internet, museum, travels to the places connected with history, movies etc. are very good sources for me. As for the deities connected stuff, in "Born On Samhain" it has something to do with my personal feelings and life attitude and struggles as well as my ties to old ancient Europe and to the feeling of being a part of something cosmic, that man has no ability to understand it in full concept. Nothing religious, I could say that I am more like anti-religious kind of person mainly when it comes to all kind of forced and oppressing religions (and ideologies as well), it's some kind of subconscious feeling and respect to all good that once was.
The album concludes with "Epitaph De Sangre" that I quote in Spanish: "Anos De Guerra, Catastrofes Y Victorias In Nombre De Muerte Fiera", is this the greeting that sums up the way of experiencing the death metal of Nomenmortis?
I think you got it very well. It speaks about or way and struggles we experienced and won. And it's also a small thanks to the times I had when I lived in Catalonia a couple of years ago.
How have you get in touch with Dejan of Darzamadicus Records?
I know him for maybe eight – nine years, first he ordered some our stuff from me, then we became a pen-friends and he turned out to be our probably biggest and most devoted fan, [laughs]. He is very cool, intelligent and honest guy and the only sad thing about him is, that he didn't start his label 10 years sooner, [laughs].
Have you organized a tour to support "Forget Arcadia"? What feedback is having the disc?
We have no chance to play any show, because we have no line-up for that, even if we would want to play this stuff live again. We played in three-piece line-up in 2009-10, with the guitar, drums and vocals only, and it was too big risk, when it comes to achieving the proper sound. Now Neptun, the drummer is working in Switzerland, and the right to play drums in Nomenmortis is exclusively his, for all he done for the band. And if we will play any show in the future – because you never know – there must by at least four people on stage, preferably guitar-bass-drums-vocal (in this case Adam would like to have two guitars on stage, but for me the bass is more important that the second guitar, this would soften the music too much). As for the feedback, so far the reactions are positive, sometimes enthusiastic, although from a lot of them I feel, that we play something that is minority genre even in such a minority genre like death metal is. Maybe we are too extreme or too non-comparable stuff for average listener of death metal, but I really don't care about that. And too much reviews, although positive, are written in quite a superficial way, without having any knowledge about the lyrics etc., but this is probably the way of nowadays approach to metal.
It's strange to say, but in these few years of experience with the webzine, was more simple approaching with well established realities like you rather than with young bands at the first disc. Obviously I do not do all the same brush, but I noticed a "starlets" attitude not inclined to the real nature of the metal world and a promotion a bit uncorrect, in some cases almost to the point of scandal, by some major label. In your opinion, the metal is too commercialized? Metallica with "Black Album" they did the "damage" and we're still paying the consequences? There are reasons why a ripe band with more albums on shoulders, sometimes struggle to find a contract, and ends with the self-production with results also commendable and a bunch of crested assholes come under Metalblade, Relapse, or similar?
This is really complex question, I try to be a short and to the point. The metal scene of nowadays is really huge in the same point when everything important in metal is already done and said. You have a thousands of new bands with no real knowledge about what metal has to be and especially how it once was and where are the roots of all that. There is no such underground like twenty – thirty years ago, lot of new people are really superficial and poseur, with having extremely easy access to everything. With a lot of easy ways to promote they aren't used to work really hard and to fight. Then, meeting the first obstacles, they fall into defeatism and quit, or jump on another trend. With having the luck to be signed, a lot of these people start to have appropriate starlet behavior without any base for that. This is, what the bands with years on the scene and with significant releases consider as childish, ridiculous and stupid, just ask bands like Sinister and other "matadors", how often they meet such crappers. Speaking about being signed on big labels, this is a matter of luck, working on being visible, but mainly it's all about market potential of the band – big labels just follow, or, better, create the trends and choose the bands fitting their goals best. Fortunately we still have a chance to get some good releases from the bands on big labels (especially on Relapse and such ones), but mostly from already well established and rooted bands with recognizable musical face. For the rest of the bands, who want to play music by their own taste, the only ways are small, more or less underground labels, or self-releases. It's quite a hard fight, but honestly – no one is forced to play metal with the pistol by his head. First you play to please yourself, then for the crowd, this should be only natural attitude, the commercial effect is up to your work and a dose of luck. As for Metallica with "Black Album", they only did what they wanted to do, the fact that they attracted also some non-metal population and started to be played in radios and television, is more ore less a sort of side-effect, bringing money to them (and killing them as worthy musicians for the future times, [laughs]). In my opinion, the real metal now lives on more underground and less-market oriented level, and lives for the people not lazy to search for something more or better than the stuff offered by big labels. This is quite a natural evolution, because metal is no way as big as it was twenty – thirty years ago. Only devoted people, musicians as well as the fans, will stay, for the rest all that is a fashion matter of a few seasons.
What are the things you miss most of the eighties and nineties? And what would you envy at that time at the guys and musicians of today?
The effect of something new, fresh and mysterious, this is what is only the past now. As well as the real devotion, with overcrowded shows, be it the concert of big, or underground band. These were the times when you had to fight hard for your access to the music and right to listen it and look the way you wanted – especially hard when you lived under communist regime. It was a kind of adventure, [laughs]. And then I miss the times of printed magazines, fanzines, buying and trading the tapes, discs etc., all that was way more real and honest than this upload/download era, that ruined the scene quite a bit. And what I would envy? Certainly the way better and cheaper instruments, lot of possibilities for the recording, easier and faster way for promotion – internet of course has also mainly lot of positive aspects -, well, professionally organized concerts and festivals, and, of course, big extreme metal names playing twenty minutes of walking from my house, like I have it nowadays, [laughs].
How did your passion for this music born? What are the discs that have changed your life?
I think it should be around 1984, when I was at elementary school. I was not into the music that much before, but when I heard bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, I felt it more than interesting. Then came some Czech and Slovak bands, allowed by regime to release the LP's – Citron, Tublatanka, and on high school I started to be totally into this music, with Metallica, Helloween and others. And when I heard "Reign In Blood" from Slayer in 1986, my musical direction was born. Some my musical milestones are also Kreator – Pleasure To Kill, Bathory – "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark", Sodom – "Persecution Mania", Death – "Leprosy", Napalm Death – "Scum", Obituary – "Slowly We Rot", Carcass – Reek Of Putrefaction", Entombed – Left Hand Path", Pungent Stench – "For God Your Soul… For Me Your Flesh", Cannibal Corpse – "Eaten Back To Life", Impetigo – Ultimo Mondo Cannibale", Sinister – "Cross The Styx", At The Gates – "The Red In The Sky Is Ours"… the list should be way more longer. Of course I wouldn't say that something from that changed my life, but all that shifted my musical taste forward.
The concert or festival in which you participated that had left you an unforgettable memory?
It should be Obscene Extreme 2003, when we played after midnight in front of 1500 people with quite crazy pit, as well as more recent show in small club here in northeastern Slovakia, when about seventy people got crazy and bought significant amount of our merchandise despite of being from the poorest region in SK.
And the concert that you wanted to relive as a spectator?
Both of Slayer gigs, in Prague, 1998 (?), as well as in Ostrava, 2002. And, of course, the Death show in Prague, 1999 (?), Brodequin on OEF, Suffocation on Brutal Assault, overcrowded show of Napalm Death here in our city a couple of years ago, but also Deep Purple show, also here, in 2006, where I was with the girl I loved most of all whom I was with, maybe too much, but it was nice anyway, [laughs]. The list should be very long, because I really like the live shows, also because of a lot of friends I am meeting there, this beats any party and the socialization effect of such events is very important too I think.
Who is Martin outside the band size? Your life of every day…
I think it would be only fair to tell something to all the guys in Nomenmortis, because they're like my brothers after all we did and experienced together. Adam, the guitarrist/bassplayer/additional vocalist/whatever is a family guy, proud and caring father of two sons. He is working in electrical warehouse and his main hobbies are music, horror (especially splatter and gore) movies, aquarium and cooking/eating/gourmetism. He is cool partner for drinking and debating, because of being one of the most eloquent guys I know! Neptun, the drummer, plays with us since winter 2008, and he fits to the "older" core of the band in the most brilliant way because of being really honest, friendly, hard working and easy guy. He worked here as artistic smith — master of the black arts [laughs] — but now he mostly lives in Switzerland and works in farms etc. His girlfriend joined him after the new year, that's good, because they're quite serious about their relationship and need to be together. His hobby, besides of music, are horror movies too, and he found special fun in collecting the most stupid ones (Killing Bulldozer and crap like that, you know). He knows, how to drink something good too!We had a lot of fun together, visiting the shows, having parties, having trips to the nature etc. As for me, these times I am mostly single, without too serious plans to change it as soon as possible because after my various stories I am quite cynical and cold, when it comes to all that women thing!I work privately as language editor and translator, I did over one hundred and thirty books so far. My hobbies are reading books, watching movies, some painting and sculpturing, nature, good beer, women — despite past adventures, [laughs]. And I write for metal (and other, more serious) media for over twenty years, right now for two printed ones, Rock Hard Slovakia and Axe In Your Head zine, and for two webs, Incipitum and Metalopolis. My everyday life is nothing unusual – morning I wake up, then do my job – translations or writing the articles, and the rest of the time I spend with doing the band's agenda or with my hobbies I mentioned above. I also need to care a bit about the household, mainly with shopping, as my parents are after sixties, on retire and their health isn't as stable as it used to be when they were younger, and, of course, they deserve a bit of rest. I have two younger sisters, but one is living in England, the second is busy with her poorly paid job and quite a caring boyfriend, I wish her the best with him, at last she found a man, not some pathetic crap, [laughs].
Projects for the future? There is opportunity to see you involved in some other bands or this is permanent abandonment?
First I will tell something about our past musical adventures. Adam was doing Cruent (crusty gore grind, quite well done, they have about six recordings, but only one released oficially) and some never recorded projects. Neptun had Dominion Of Suffering, old school death/black metal, with one CD-R demo, the music is influenced mainly by Scandinavian scene from early Nineties and maybe sounds also South-American sometimes. I was doing mainly Nomenmortis, and some guest vocals in projects liked KE-Ground (this was done by Ivan, the guitarist of Obliterate, where various vocalists from Kosice are involved, with songs done in the way of their domestic bands, so you can hear some death and grind core stuff as well as some progressive metal, because this guy is very talented and wide-spectral, when it comes to composing) and Feast Of Rotten Corpses (this is a mixture of death metal, hard core and thrash, again with various guests on the vocals). As for the future, I have no plans now, feeling a bit exhausted (but not in negative meaning), and the rest guys, I don't know, both of them are busy with their non-music issues. But no one can see into the future.
We thank you for the time spend with us and, wishing you the best, I leave you the word to bring to an end the interview as you prefer.
Thank you guys for your interest in us and for your support, you helped us a lot. I would like to say hello to the readers and potential new fans, check our stuff, the newest and the older as well, I don't think you will be disappointed, if you are extreme forms of death metal. Thank you for your attention and keep it living and real. Greetings from Slovakia.