Since formation in June 2013 Vacivus has experienced a significant rise to prominence within the UK’s metal underground. With an EP that sold out in a matter of weeks, a CD issue and a number of live performances during which they shared the stage with Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum and She’ol, here at The Lair of Filth we thought it was time we caught up with the band to find out a little more.
Interview by Trevor Proctor.
First and foremost, thank you very much for conducting an interview with The Lair of Filth; it’s very much appreciated by me and Jude. For those reading who may not be familiar with the band could you give us some insight into the type of music Vacivus plays and also some information about the band’s formation etc.?
V: Thanks to you for the support! Vacivus was formed in 2013 to create old-school, sinister death metal which glorifies the almighty abyss. Most of us had played together in a band called Dawn of Chaos for a number of years and, when this band split up, we decided to do something which more accurately reflected our dark musical vision. Shortly afterwards we recruited Nick on vocals as we had known him for years and he shared our love of abyssal death metal, which completed the lineup.
You released a three track rehearsal demo in September 2014 on digital formats, were you pleased with both how it sounded and also the instant attention it seemed to generate for the band?
V:We were very pleased with the way the rehearsal demo turned out! It was recorded on an old 16 track, using a couple of cheap microphones that were lying around our rehearsal room, so we were really surprised that it sounded as good as it did. We were also very surprised at the response it received!
Featuring the three demo tracks, along with another two, your debut EP “Rite of Ascension” was released on cassette by Goatprayer Records during July of this year – how big a moment was it for the band to get an official, physical release and also from such a well-respected underground label?
V:We were honoured when Goatprayer approached us to put out the cassette release of Rite of Ascension. This had been recorded live in a single day and was intended to act as a demo. It felt good to have a physical release, especially as the artwork (which was done by Grave IX design) looks fantastic!
The cassette sold out in a couple of weeks, were you surprised with how quickly it sold and the critical acclaim it also generated in the process?
V:Definitely! We had no idea that the cassette would sell out so quickly! This was something that we recorded as a demo, so it is quite humbling to receive such positive feedback.
Fast forward a couple of months and your EP was released in September on CD via Hellthrasher Productions – was a CD version always on the cards or was the release partly down to the popularity of the cassette?
V:Hellthrasher approached us shortly after the cassette release was announced. We had wanted to do a CD release too, and they seemed the perfect choice to handle it. It's great to see our music being released on a label alongside bands such as Ritual Chamber, Abyssal etc.
I’m aware your debut live appearance was at Byker Grave festival in Newcastle on the 29th of November 2014. Was the band generally happy with how your first gig went and how do you think the crowd reacted to your music?
V:Our debut gig was somewhat disappointing for us as the drumkit we were using fell apart mid-set, however it still felt like a good show overall. The response was really positive though, and it seems that we managed to conjure a dark, savage atmosphere regardless.
The Byker Grave line-up also featured Bast, Wodensthrone and a number of others; did you get to see many other bands during the festival and what were the highlights?
V:We managed to see some great shows throughout the day, however I (Ian) was a little busy myself as I was also playing drums with Wodensthrone. Bast and Fed to the Boars were definitely the highlights of the day!
A mere couple of weeks after this first gig you shared a billing with Cruciamentum and Crypt Lurker – there’s not many bands about that can claim to have shared a billing with a band like Cruciamentum as their second gig. Did this bring any added pressure to your performance and was it a moment of immense pride to share a stage with a band as revered as Cruciamentum?
V:Sharing the stage with Cruciamentum and Crypt Lurker on our second show is definitely something we are proud of. It's great to share the stage with bands that conjure a similar atmosphere. There was no added pressure however, as we always try and deliver our best when we perform live. We were much happier with how this show turned out, compared to our debut show, and the other bands on the bill played killer sets too!
Your next live appearance was on July 4th in Glasgow with Grave Miasma, Funeral Throne, Barshasketh and Devouring Star – a gig I travelled from N Ireland to attend and I was well impressed with the performance of every band featured, including Vacivus. How did you think your performance went and how the hell do you manage to get gigs playing with heavyweights like Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum? Also, what did you think of the other bands playing at this gig?
V:This was another great show for us to be a part of. Grave Miasma have been one of my personal favourite death metal bands for some time, and the rest of the line-up was fantastic too, so when we were asked to play it was a no-brainer. We ended up going on first and played a fast and furious set which also featured some newer material. The response was great, and this show led to us being asked to play North of the Wall festival in March 2016.
So, with a sell-out cassette, CD release and previously mentioned high profile live appearances under your belts - how do you plan on keeping up the momentum and how do you improve on such a successful start for the band?
V:We have recently recorded two new tracks which we hope to release as a 7" in 2016, however we have not yet secured a label for this release. We also have more new material written, which will likely emerge later next year as either a full length or an EP. Other than that, we hope we can take our message of death and despair on tour around the UK and Europe.
Nick, the first thing I noticed about you at the Grave Miasma gig was your Malthusian shirt; did you get the chance to watch them at The Fires of Samhain festival in Dublin last weekend and which bands were your highlights over the weekend?
Nick – Yes, I managed to see them in Dublin, they played a short-but-intense set which left me wanting more. My absolute highlight of the event had to be Dead Congregation, they were simply a cut above the rest. The whole line-up was great though.
Vacivus is playing on a bill with Ireland’s Vircolac in Newcastle, England during January 2016, are there any other Irish underground bands you’re fans of? Also, can we expect to hear any new Vacivus tracks at the gig?
Ian - Yes, Ireland has a great scene! We are fans of Malthusian, Vircolac, Zom, Abaddon Incarnate and Primordial to name a few. We should be playing some material from our recently recorded 7" and possibly some even more recent material at the Vircolac show.
I’ve also noticed Vacivus is booked to play at the North of the Wall Festival in Glasgow during May 2016 on what I feel is one of the most impressive line-ups assembled within the U.K. – aside from this and the date with Vircolac have you any other dates lined up for next year and what bands are you looking forward to seeing most on the line-up?
V:North of the Wall is shaping up to be an incredible event and we are honoured to be a part of it. I'm hoping to catch Cult of Fire, Malthusian and Necros Christos if possible, and Barshasketh always put on a killer show! In terms of other dates, we will hopeully be playing in Newcastle with Cruciamentum, Possession, Scythian and Slaughter Messiah while they're all over for NoTW, as well as another Newcastle date with Inconcessus Lux Lucis in April.
Nick told me during a few chats at The Fires of Samhain festival that Vacivus are due to enter the studio very soon – are you recording in the same studio as with Rites of Ascension and what’s the band hoping to get recorded, a full length album or EP and do all members of the band contribute with the writing process for new tracks?
V:We recorded our two new tracks in the same studio as Rite of Ascension, although we chose not to go for another live recording this time, as we wanted to add more depth to our sound. In terms of writing, we all contribute during the writing process which allows us to incorporate a number of different influences and styles into our sound.
So far 2015 has been a very prolific year for extreme metal, definitely one of the most productive in years, what releases have you enjoyed the most so far?
V:Cruciamentum, Barshasketh, Tyranny and Akhlys all released stunning albums this year, and we've had killer EPs from Malthusian, Ritual Chamber and Antiversum amongst others.
No place has benefitted more than the U.K. from this productivity, with many bands releasing seriously good music, which U.K. bands do you feel deserve a wider audience?
V:Inconcessus Lux Lucis, Lunar Mantra, Caecus and Live Burial are all great underground bands, as well as the more well-known UK bands such as Ghast, Scythian, Barshasketh etc.
Cassettes are enjoying a worldwide resurgence in demand, especially within the metal community – is this being driven by dedicated, die-hard enthusiasts or hipsters?
V:Extreme metal never stopped supporting cassettes and vinyl as formats, at least in the underground scenes. This current boost in popularity seems to be more driven by 'hipsters' and the unfortunate side-effect is that the bands and labels that have been supporting the format for years are now pushed to the back of the queue in favour of more commercial orders – hence the ridiculous delays impacting vinyl production currently.
Extreme metal world-wide is enjoying its most productive period in many years, possibly most productive period ever, do you feel this is a good or bad thing for the music and do you feel it will have the same audience in ten years’ time?
V:Extreme metal is such a diverse and fractured scene that it is hard to say what effect an increase in popularity will have. True underground metal will continue to live on regardless, and I have no doubt that there will be bands keeping the death metal flame burning long into the future.
In closing, which bands would you say have played the biggest part in influencing and forming Vacivus’ sound and what five bands, past or present, would you most like to share a stage with?
V:In regards to our sound we draw on a wide range of influences, including death metal bands such as Morbid Angel, Sepultura and Incantation, black metal bands such as Mayhem, Behexen and Weakling, Doom bands such as Esoteric, Evoken and diSEMBOWELMENT etc. We try to create music that is dark and intense, without worrying about genre restrictions.
In regards to bands we would like to share the stage with, I would say:
Sepultura (Beneath the Remains era)
Incantation (Onwards to Golgotha era)
Darkthrone (Soulside Journey era)
Absu (Barathrum Vitriol era)
Sarcofago (INRI era)