– Spanish here –
They arose at the beggining of the century, since then, FORGOTTEN TOMB have become one a reference of curent black, contributing largely to the birth of depressive suicidal black metal, and earning a wide legion of supporters and detractors. We’re in 2015 and the band from Piazenza is currently introducing their seventh album Hurt yourself and the ones you love. We are speaking with their founder and maximum ideologist, Ferdinando Marchisio, better known as Herr Morbid, who, loyal to itself, answers our questions in a wide, nice, instructive way, but without bitting his own tongue.
Subterráneo Heavy: What’s the origin of the explicit title Hurt yourself and the ones you love? I mean, as per usual the album topic is negativity (if not, you wouldn’t be FORGOTTEN TOMB), but, what have you inspired on this time, what kind of negativity?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: In an older song we did on Under saturn retrograde there was a line saying “Harm yourself and your loved ones tonight” and I wanted to expand that concept, so I slightly altered that sentence for the new title and worked on it. It’s basically a very nihilistic title and it expresses my contempt for society as a whole, it’s an invite to destroy all moral values and join the dark side of life. I would say this album was written under a more “mature” kind of daily monotony, not really depression or such but mood swings, decadence, urban misery, disappointments, failure, a general bleak outlook of the future.
Dreams played also an important role in the lyrics on this new album. I had these very strange and somber dreams for a few months prior to the recording sessions, which is very uncommon for me since I usually don’t remember my dreams and I have a kind of deathlike-sleep. Though I had all these crazy dreams which seemed like some messages from another plane of existence, or some dark omen, and I thought the wiser thing to do was to incorporate the feelings I got from these dreams in the new lyrics. Strangely enough, dreams stopped after the album was done. Though I take inspiration from my own life a lot and from what I see around me, and there’s plenty of negative things to take inspiration there. The exploration of death in its various facets for sure is a constant in our lyrics. The attack to society and its morals/values is another theme I cherish, as well as the glorification of some negative aspects of human behaviours.
Subterráneo Heavy: In your album …And don’t deliver us from evil you stated that you had been through a dark time before the creation of that album, something that did obviously influence in your work. This time has been different, Has life treated you better or is the negativity in your lifes still around?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: Negativity in my life is always around, to a certain extent. Suffering and self-destruction certainly helped crafting some of our older albums, though sadism, hatred and the will to do harm are other important inspirations. And above all, I don’t need to search for negativity since it usually comes searching for me. Some very strange things happen around me and the band everytime a new album is about to be released, and usually they’re not good; it’s like a price to pay, something like that. Still, I always said that if I write a song about being in a bad mood, it doesn’t mean that I’m constantly in that mood… Writing a song is like taking a picture of that particular moment. I don’t consider myself as a depressed person at all. It depends on how life treats me, which is usually bad, though there are different levels of “bad”. I’d say these days I’m in a constant balance between resignation to the misery of it all and total hatred towards the course of things in life. Musically and lyrically I think this new album is a bit more pissed-off than the previous one, which was a little more introspective.
Subterráneo Heavy: When …And don’t deliver us from evil came out, your guitarrist Andrea, hadn´t played in the album, and you played all guitars. 3 years later, has he contributed to this new album as a full-time member?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: Yes, this time around he played leads and clean guitars, and he wrote and performed “Swallow the void”. I played all rhythm guitars and a few leads, though I still wrote most of what you hear on the album in terms of songs and arrangements.
FORGOTTEN TOMB: Exactly. I always said that we would have used clean vocals only when needed. I never wanted to quit using screams in favour of clean vocals or viceversa. Vocals are like another instrument, you use them according to how the song and music is supposed to sound. The new album turned out very aggressive and we thought clean vocals were not needed or suitable for this set of songs. They might reappear in the future though, who knows. On this album I preferred to work on vocal patters and rhythms more, vocals are technically more complicated than usual in terms of pacing, metrics and such, though I guess not everybody will notice that.
Subterráneo Heavy: The last track, “Swallow the void”, has drawn my attention, an entirely acoustic instrumental song, that has nothing to do with the rest of the tracks, and I think it is the first time you’ve done this (“Under saturn retrograde II” was very similar, but that one had distortion at the end), how did that song come up?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: The song was written by Andrea. I think it’s a good way to end the album and people seem to like it. He had this nice melody, so we sat down in the evening after the main recording-sessions at the studio and recorded it by ourselves, it was a nice experiment. In the past, besides “Under saturn retrograde Pt.II”, which was almost entirely acoustic, we had “Springtime depression”, which was just clean guitars and it’s one of our most popular songs ever, having been covered by a lot of bands over the years too.
Subterráneo Heavy: It’s the first time you’ve change the studio, all your previous albums have been recorded at Elfo Studios in Piacenza, it might be that the people who worked with you have changed, mastering, mixing… but the studio has remained the same. But now, you’ve moved to Sound Suite Studios in Marseille. What are you trying to achieve with this change, what you were looking for? How has the experience been with this new studio?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: No, “Springtime depression”, which is one of our most popular albums, was recorded in Abyss Studios in Sweden. In regards to this new album, we felt the previous 2 albums sounded a little too over-produced, a little too polished maybe, so this time we went for a more organic and natural production, with more punch and a little dirtier than usual. It sounds more in line with Negative megalomania than with the last 2 albums I think. We wanted the drums to sound more real and the guitars to be more in-your-face; basically I wanted to achieve what was meant as a “good production” in the ‘90s, meaning a lot of individual live-playing in the studio, with less software-tricks as possible, and realistic sounding stuff. These days productions sound very fake and standardized, with all these triggers, inhuman performances and auto-tuned vocals, and we thought this would not benefit our music.
We chose the producer Terje Refsnes and his studios personally; of course we grew up with scandinavian black metal records in the ‘90s and Terje’s name was kind of legendary at the time, having produced some very important pieces of black metal history such as early CARPATHIAN FOREST and GEHENNA albums. He produced other styles also, such as scandinavian Pop and prog-rock, and the albums he produced in his career overall sold some million copies, so he knows what he’s doing and he got some good advices to give. He didn’t start originally as a metal producer, so he got a wider vision of how an album should sound, he worked with a lot of genres. Also, he’s not in just for the money and he will tell you if your band sucks or if you’re doing a good job haha. He’s a skilled and experienced guy, and he managed to get the best out of us and guide us towards the best choices for the sound on the album.
Subterráneo Heavy: Lots of people have criticized you because of the musical evolution of the band through all these years, stating that you’re not the same raw black metal band that you used to be and that you’ve become more accesible to the “general” public, what´s your oppinion about those complains?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: I understand personal taste is something that cannot be debated, but the fact that someone might suggest we evolved our style to become more “accessible to the general audience” is one of the most hilarious things that I’ve been hearing over the years. It’s such an absurd and senseless statement that it doesn’t even need to be discussed. This said, we have never been a “raw” band either, all of our albums always had fairly good sounding productions and musicianship, even the demo!
There is this misconception within the Metal audience, especially the black metal one, that when a band gets better at playing and producing its albums is “selling out”. This is obviously some retarded juvenile prejudice and we don’t need this kind of narrow-minded mentality among our fanbase.
Also, the rock influences, the doomy stuff or the dark-wave vibe have been there in our style since the beginning, maybe in a less evident form but they were there. We probably got heavier with years, which is a good thing to me, considering a lot of bands got softer instead. There is more rhythmic stuff, more riffs, more structures, more layers, we became better players… But I think we retained our classic trademark, even if we progressively introduced a different approach. Considering how the genre we helped forging back in the days (the now so-called DSBM) was distorted by other bands over the years in its original meaning and musical direction, I’m glad people say we took distance from that, ‘cause I feel there was an involution in the style all these younger bands play these days. They didn’t add anything to the style, they actually made it more minimal which is something I don’t appreciate at all. We created our own style and evolved it on our terms album after album. Every time is a new challenge and that’s what makes it interesting for me and hopefully for the more open-minded listeners. For all the others, there are still the early albums or all the clones that popped up over the years. I like the fact that FORGOTTEN TOMB does not really sound like any other band in particular.
Subterráneo Heavy: This time you haven’t released any cover version, why? Did you think it was unnecesary? Or was it maybe that you recorded it, but it hasn´t been released yet?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: We didn’t have time for it. Maybe next time…
Subterráneo Heavy: When Springtime depression reached 10 years, you celebrated it with some special shows, would you like to do the same, in a future, with some other albums, like Negative megalomania or Under saturn retrograde?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: It’s something I usually dislike, especially since it became a trend in metal since a few years. I did not even wanted to do it for Springtime depression anniversary, but I was talked into it for a series of reasons and I accepted to do it only on a very limited run of shows of that tour. Despite all this, I think playing Negative megalomania in its entirety might be very cool, because it was a game changer and especially because it’s still one of my favourites in our discography for its freshness. We’ll see if the times and conditions will allow us to do so, and above all, we’ll see if people will show interest in something like that.
Subterráneo Heavy: Last year you released your first live DVD (something not very usual in the black/doom bands), with 3 shows recorded in Germany, during Under saturn retrograde tour, why were those shows the chosen ones? Are you satisfied with the final result? Also, i’d like to know about the “gift” you made to the fans, giving away for free the audio of the Kings of Black Metal show.
FORGOTTEN TOMB: We chose Kings Of Black Metal because it was quite a big festival, Under The Black Sun because it was a medium/underground festival and the show at K17 because it was a club. This way people can see the band in 3 different environments, with different stages, lights, audiences, etc. Germany was chosen because we have a good fanbase there and because the filming crews were from that country. I think the result is pretty good, especially the main show at KOBM, which was professionally shot. With a bigger budget we could have done more, filming other summer festivals or including interviews and extras, but there wasn’t the chance to do better than that. Still I think it’s a pretty well-done work.
In regards to giving the audio away for free download, it was a present to our fans as well as a promotional move, sometimes is good to give away something extra.
Subterráneo Heavy: What’s your opinion about the modern black metal scene, any band worth being listened to? What do you think about the rise and popularity of the post black metal movement, do you enjoy it, or is it completely indifferent to you?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: In all honesty I’m pretty much uninterested in the current black metal scene. I seldomly find stuff that I like. Trends come and go, it has always been like that, even in the ‘90s underground black metal scene when everybody wanted to be either symphonic vampires or satanic church-burners. I prefer to do my own thing as always while every trend run its course. Most of the bands look and sound the same these days. Post-BM stuff is another trend that is hopefully going to end very soon, since it’s embarassing. Some bands should not even exist nor have anything to do with this kind of music.
Subterráneo Heavy: What touring plans have you? Will it be as headliners or as a supporting act? Will we have any chance to see you around Spain, like you did on previous tours?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: We recently played Portugal and UK and it was a huge success. Now for the next months we have 10 shows booked in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Russia, Italy and Mexico, then we’ll have a proper headlining tour in Europe during October, supported by french allies NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION. We’ll play live as much as possible from now to the end of 2015 and then possibly keeping on touring through 2016, while writing some new material.
The problem with Spain is that it’s always difficult to tour there because of where the country is located in Europe. Driving there is a long trip, and driving through the country is difficult because the territory is extremely wide. Best thing would be to play selected fly-in shows or to make a mini-tour just for Spain, outside of the main European tour, but this all depends on organizers and booking agencies. As long as we get paid and we have fans who are eager to see our shows, we play everywhere we can. We played several times there and it was cool.
Subterráneo Heavy: Well, that’s all, anything else you want to say to our readers?
FORGOTTEN TOMB: We hope there are chances to visit there once more, ask your local promoters to book us. Don’t forget to buy our new album and to bring over a couple of cold Freixenet extra-dry bottles to the shows, since it’s one of my favourite wines haha.