March 11, 2018

Exclusive Double Interview - Abyssal + Carcinoma.


Interview by Trevor Proctor.

The UK’s presence within underground extreme music is continuing to grow at a very satisfying rate, one label that regularly contributes to this growth is Goatprayer Records. Goatprayer was the first label to physically release music from Vacivus, Bone Tomb, Hegemony and Cryptworm so it’s fair to say the label has played, and will continue to play, a pivotal role in the shaping of extreme music, both nationally and internationally. 



Goatprayer’s contribution to our underground is set to continue as their 20th release is scheduled to be a split from two of the U.K.’s most “atmospherically enriched” underground bands – Abyssal and Carcinoma. Whilst there are some similarities between the bands there are also a few distinct differences – with three albums previously released along with a limited edition cassette box set this will be Abyssal’s fifth release whilst it will be Carcinoma’s second to date. Also, Abyssal have just made their live debut yet Carcinoma have performed on a number of occasions and have supported some very high profile bands since their inception in 2014.
With the Apanthropinization split from Abyssal and Carcinoma due for release on the 30th of March from Goatprayer Records I decided to conduct an interview with both bands to find out more about their past, present and future. 
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Abyssal and Carcinoma for the time and effort taken in answering these questions as well as Terry from Goatprayer Records for arranging this interview to begin with...



Abyssal.

As you’re well aware I’m a huge fan of Abyssal’s music, and have been for a number of years but for those not overly familiar with the band could you give us a little background to Abyssal and your music?

Abyssal started as a project in 2010, although a lot of the material comprising the first release was much older. The focus of Abyssal was always to create music that was atmospheric and textural, but using the tools of black and death metal to achieve this. This was largely in line with a lot of like-minded bands at the time, who had grown tired of the clinical and hyper-technical state of modern death metal and yearned to create something with a bit more grit and substance.

To date you’ve released three albums – all of which were really well received by both underground media and fans alike, including Antikatastaseis which was one of my albums of the year in 2015 - did you ever expect the project to receive such prominence when you first started it? Also, have you anything written for a future album and if so will it be a 2018 release? 

I am still continually surprised and humbled by the attention that Abyssal has received from the wider world. The debut demo, 'Denouement' was released as a free download on Bandcamp with very little ambition to take the project any further. However the record was very quickly picked up by a wide variety of bloggers and zines, ultimately leading to a CD and vinyl release through Poland’s Hellthrasher Records.
The second album, 'Novit enim Dominus...' was released in a similar manner, but almost immediately was snapped up by Profound Lore Records, a label that I still believe represents the forefront of extreme and experimental music. To say that this was unbelievable to me is an understatement. Abyssal is currently working on a fourth album, as a follow up to 'Antikatastaseis.' 
The hope is to release this in late 2018, but it has undoubtedly been the most challenging and beleaguered writing process that I have yet endured, involving at least three complete re-writes of the album from scratch. 'Antikatastaseis' was somewhat of a ‘lightning-in-a-jar’ moment, where almost everything fell into place first time without undue effort, but its follow up could not be further from this.

Whilst all Abyssal albums are exceptional I feel your music evolved in a positive way as each album was released with slight enhancements made to the Abyssal sound and recording with each further LP, do you agree?

I absolutely agree. While I still enjoy moments of 'Denouement' for posterity, I find that parts of the songwriting, lyrical concepts and even production values are astonishingly immature. I have even toyed with the idea of returning to this album and re-recording it, but I must resist the temptation to succumb to George Lucas syndrome in regards to my earlier work.
I believe that 'Novit enim Dominus...' was where it all began to solidify, and 'Antikatastaseis' was subsequently where the sound came into its own. Following up 'Antikatastaseis' has been astonishingly difficult, as I feel it was the end of an arc in terms of that songwriting style. 



I’ve listened to Apanthropinization many times and feel Abyssal’s music is as strong as anything you’ve released to date -  do you agree with me and what do you think of Carcinoma’s tracks?

The tracks on 'Apanthropinization' are consciously a much more stripped back, punishing and old school sound. As a result, I would suggest that these are probably the most enjoyable Abyssal tracks to listen to. This was a deliberate choice in terms of songwriting, as an old school sound that I have always wanted to explore, being a big fan of bands like Incantation, Disma, Cruciamentum etc.   
The Carcinoma tracks are an excellent companion to this sound, as they typically explore a more frantic, chaotic style. It is always challenging when releasing a split album to avoid the two sides sounding either too alike, or too different, but I think we have definitely achieved a successful balance here.

Apanthropinization and Abyssal's tracks from the release have some typically cryptic titles such as ‘Sinews Weave Vicissitudes’ and ‘Chaos Anthropomorphism’  can you tell us the meaning behind these titles and what themes are explored during the four tracks?

All of the tracks explore the idea of chaos and its interaction with the psyche. The track 'Sinews Weave Vicissitudes' explores how individual strands of action, whether these are the actions of individuals or other actors, can compound to create cataclysmic results. 
'Chaos Anthropomorhism' similarly explores how the human psych tends to put a human face on incredibly complicated emergent phenomena. The track describes how an individual psyche simultaneously creates, fights and defeats this anthropomorphised form of this chaos for nothing other than its own putrid sense of self satisfaction. 

When were the four tracks for ‘Apanthropinization’ recorded and could you tell us if/how the recording sessions differed to previous sessions? 

As with all Abyssal material, the tracks were self recorded. There was not much difference in the recording methodologies, aside from the fact that these tracks are substantially more downtuned compared to previous work.

When we first spoke four years ago on the vinyl release of 'Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius' you had no plans of bringing Abyssal to the stage. This is set to change in March when you will be performing at the prestigious Oration Festival – what led to this change and how will it feel playing Abyssal’s music live for the first time? Also, which bands from this exceptional line-up are you looking forward to seeing the most?

The case was that I had my arm twisted by several individuals and eventually came to agreement that it would be a good idea. Some of the tracks definitely have a different flavour when performed live, and I think that the performances will satisfy fans who have been waiting for it.
As for Oration, I will be very pleased to see Sortilegia again, who remain one of my all time favourite live acts. I am also very much looking forward to Rebirth of NefastOration is for sure going to be one to remember.


Abyssal is one of a few bands that has managed to maintain a degree of secrecy when it comes to membership details etc., will this level of secrecy be maintained during your upcoming live shows?

I am unsure if the level of secrecy has actually been maintained to the extent that people believe it has, but we will certainly not be wearing name-tags during the performances.

Abyssal has always been a project featuring only one band member – can you reveal any details about which musicians will be joining you on stage and can you tell us which tracks you’re planning to perform?

The live lineup features musicians from Carcinoma, Barshasketh, Coffin Haze and Atrum. For the set-list, you will have to wait and see.

How will it feel trusting others to perform your music live when everything you’ve written to date has been solely your work? Also, will the live members of the band play any part in writing future Abyssal material?

This was probably the biggest challenge. Finding members who were simultaneously able to play the material, and also who were interested in the music that Abyssal plays has been an enormous challenge. The search spanned most of Europe at one time. 
I was initially reticent, but the confidence in the lineup was vindicated almost immediately in the first rehearsal.
As for the concept of live members contributing to songwriting, it is something that I have not put much thought to. My initial thought is that they will not, but I am open to the idea in the future, but Abyssal will always be my project.

Abyssal’s second live date is set to take place during Scotland’s North of the Wall Festival, in April and it’s a performance I’ll thankfully get to watch, do you know which day you’re scheduled to play, will this be your only UK show for 2018 and have you any plans for further Abyssal live appearances?

Unfortunately you know about as much about this as I do. I currently do not know which date or timeslot Abyssal will perform at North of the Wall, I believe this information will be revealed shortly. As for additional performances, there are some plans that are in the pipeline, but nothing that has been fleshed out as of yet. Abyssal will not turn into a touring band that is constantly on the road, but occasional, bespoke appearances are definitely a possibility. 


Which bands on the North of the Wall billing are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Definitely Dead Congregation. They remain the most powerful live death metal band that I have ever seen and never disappoint. I would also implore people to watch Spectral Apparition’s debut performance, as this is undoubtedly a band that must be seen.

Do you agree U.K. underground music has flourished in recent years and which U.K. bands do you feel deserve a higher degree of prominence than they currently enjoy?

I think that there are several bands who are flying the flag for us at a global level  (Vacivus, Cruciamentum, Grave Miasma etc.). I would say that the UK sound is not very well defined in that a lot of other national sounds are. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, as it means that UK bands can experiment without having to fit into a mould, however it also means that there is no unique facet that UK bands bring to the table.

Finally, 2018 is shaping up to be another exceptional year in terms of releases – which have you enjoyed the most so far and which are you most looking forward to hearing?

I have to confess that I have not listened to much new music this year, as I tend to catch up a year behind everyone else.
I have however heard samples of the latest Barshasketh album, which is to be released this year. I am already convinced that it will be the black metal album of the year. 


Carcinoma.

Hi, many thanks for agreeing to an interview with The Lair of Filth – the chance to find out a bit more about the band and your highly anticipated up-coming split with Abyssal  are greatly appreciated. Am I right in saying Carcinoma first came into being during 2014? Could you tell us a bit about the band, its formation and style of music? 

It's my pleasure, thanks for having me. That's correct, we formed as a band officially in 2014; Carcinoma existed as a project I had started and kept on the back burner for many years whilst working in other projects, it originally consisted of myself and another guitarist prior to 2014, O.Crawford, who appeared on our Self-titled demo, later on D.Couch and S.Waldron would join and we began then as a 4 piece in 2014. Shortly after the demo's release we parted ways with O.Crawford and have since carried on as a 3 piece. 
In terms of style, we are inspired heavily by a lot of Black/Death/War/Doom metal as well as many other sources around us of course but ultimately the music must be honest and from the heart regardless of influence. For us it's about crafting smothering soundscapes to reflect the human condition with all its ugliness exposed.

I’m aware some Carcinoma members were also in a black thrash band called Holodomor – were all Carcinoma members involved with Holodomor and what led to the band breaking up and Carcinoma being established?

All of the current members of Carcinoma so myself S.Dean, S.Waldron and D.Couch were members of Holodomor, it was the 3 of us and a guy named Adam on guitar and vocals, we worked well for a long time with one another but there were some differences between us and unfortunately it came to a point where we were no longer capable of working together, it was primarily Adam's project and he decided to call it a day. As soon as Holodomor was finished I contacted O.Crawford and asked him if he wanted to get Carcinoma running properly and we started to work almost immediately.  After some time as  I said above S.Waldon and D.Couch then showed interest and the three of us had always worked well together so it made perfect sense to work with one another again. 

Which bands, past or present, do you feel have influenced Carcinoma’s sound the most?

Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Revenge, Conqueror, Gorguts, Deathspell Omega, Ulcerate, Arkhon Infaustus, Kerasphorus, and Sadistik Exekution have probably been the most potent influences on the sound. Every once in a while something will come along and really shake things up such as Mastery with their album Valis, it's always revitalizing when something so brazen is released to freshen your perspective.  



Your first live date was in May 2014 supporting Sonance, Godsick and Monolithian in Plymouth – was the gig well attended and how did you feel your debut show went? A further live appearance took place, again in Plymouth, during June 2014, was this appearance as support to other bands? If so, which bands did you share the billing with?

The gig was well attended and I was very proud of the work we'd put in to get to that point as well as our set. I was incredibly sick that day with food poisoning which wasn't ideal but we pulled it off and got some great feedback from it. The gig in June was with Incantation and Supreme Lord which was a great gig.

A few other local appearances took place in 2014 and in October you shared a stage with Anaal Nathrakh – a massive step forward in terms of live shows - how did it feel to be playing such a high profile show and did it add to any nerves that you were playing in support of such an established band and also to, perhaps, your largest crowd at the time?

It was a great honour to share the stage with such a respected and established band, I wouldn't say it added to any nerves at all really, we were just grateful to be able to play such a show and have the audience respond to us well. It's  always great to see such a band perform at that kind of level, they create a horrifying sound. 

Since then you’ve played a number of further shows, including some prestigious support slots – which have been your favourite live performances so far? Also, you’re booked to support Primitive Man on the 5th of May – have you any plans for further live appearances during 2018?

I'd say Plebeian Grandstand and then Pyrrhon, were incredible gigs, The Great Old Ones too. Sadistic Intent was another great evening as well as when we played with Regarde Les Hommes Tomber. We're looking forward to Primitive Man a lot; we're big fans of their music so that's going to be another important one for us. There are a few other gigs in the background we're working on but nothing I can confirm 100% yet, but when they do they will be posted on our Facebook page.

Carcinoma’s debut release came in the form of a two track self-titled digital EP in July 2015 – could you please tell us about this release and was it or will it ever be released in a physical format? 

That release was to give ourselves a reference point musically so people could hear us, it was an experiment in regards to recording and preparation for a bigger release at that time. It was all self released and we learned a lot from it. I'm not sure it'll ever see physical format as we never had the intention to sell it which is why it's available for free/pay what you want to download on our bandcamp


Since 2015 there were no further releases from Carcinoma - what led to us having to wait close to 3 years for new music and what were the band’s activities at this time?

Shortly after the demo's release we had to part ways with O.Crawford and didn't want to replace him. There was a huge change in dynamics and sound because of this, so I had to rework and rewrite some of the music to make up for that loss as some of the songs just didn't sound right, we worked very hard to try and maintain the integrity of the music we are trying to create. We all spent the time working and rehearsing regularly, tweaking our sounds and refining what we have. We remained very active and played a lot of gigs around the country as well as working on our tracks featured on this split.

News of the upcoming split with Abyssal seemed to come from nowhere a few weeks ago – were your tracks for the split written/recorded long ago and could you tell us about the recording process for them as well as how the recording sessions differed from those for your debut release?

We recorded them last summer and kept it pretty quiet, we don't like to parade things and saturate people with needless and inane information so we keep it basic. The process was somewhat similar, but this time we went to Adam Chinner at Freefall Recordings as we were very impressed with his work, especially with Monolithian. So we contacted him and recorded it all over a few days; drums, guitars and bass then finally vocals. Adam was great to work with, he really did a fantastic job capturing what we wanted.  

Carcinoma’s contribution for this split release is four tracks – could you tell us about their lyrical themes and how/if you feel they differ from previous tracks written by the band? Also, have you any music written for future releases and have you any idea when we can hope to hear them?

Lyrically Carcinoma revolves around personal inner conflict, the destructiveness and chaos that humanity brings upon itself and the world, it's a reflection of the grim reality that existence can bring, this hasn't really changed since the beginning as it's the core of our sound in lyrical form. 
I try to keep the lyrics a little cryptic as I feel music should have a personal attachment and you should be able to draw anything you want from it without being swayed in one direction by some message or dogma, if it's too direct in its approach I find it becomes isolating it's not something we want with our music. Currently we are in fact finalizing some tracks for an album we hope to release soon, I can't say exactly when as we are still working out some of the finer details but hopefully we should be ready very soon to start recording. 
We have ideas for further releases after but our main focus is the album at this time.

Abyssal is a fairly established band in terms or previous releases, how does it feel to share a split release with the band, are you a fan of their music and what do you think of their four tracks from the split LP?

It's just a huge honour and an absolute pleasure to be able to share a release like this, we're all big fans of Abyssal, their tracks really drag you into the depths and hit hard, it's a haunting sound Abyssal have crafted which truly lives up to the name. To work together has been a joy for us all, it was all very easy and we worked well together to get this released. 


Obviously this is your first time working with Goatprayer Records, could you foresee working with the label again in the future?

Absolutely, it's a growing label with some prestigious releases and no doubt many more to come. There are some incredibly talented bands that Goatprayer have released, Vacivus being a personal favourite.  

As previously stated you’ve shared a stage with several high profile bands in the past – which five bands, past or present, would you most like to share a stage with and why?

In no particular order I'd say: 

Gorguts - they are a massively influential band to us all, seeing them live is like watching an orchestra, they are masters of their craft with such a unique sound, Coloured Sands and Obscura are essential albums. To play with them would be something none of us would miss the opportunity for. 
Ulcerate - Again much like Gorguts, they are a band that just stunned us when we heard them and seeing them live really left a lasting impact, to share the stage with them would be a huge honour.
Bölzer - I'd go as far as to say Hero is one of the best albums ever written,  it's a monumental piece which goes straight to the bone, they trap you in their music and take you on a real journey.
Death - What can you say about Chuck Schuldiner and Death really that hasn't already? They laid a solid foundation for all of us who are in to this type of music whether you like it or not, it's not to be ignored and they were huge to all of us when we were younger.
Revenge - Purely for selfish reasons, they are one of my absolute favourite bands!

Are there many U.K. underground bands we should be aware of? Also, 2018 is shaping up to be another exceptional year in terms of releases – which have you enjoyed the most so far and which are you most looking forward to hearing?

Vacivus are a massively powerful band that should be heard, Live Burial too. There is a band called Wisdom Without Worship that cannot be ignored, super raw and brutally honest, I'm hoping to hear some new material soon but they are incredible and really deserve more attention. This year I've enjoyed Portal's Ion the most, I'm still trying to get my head around that one! Tool are apparently in the studio this year, but we'll see what happens there, and I'm curious to see if Batushka will ever top Litourgiya. Pseudogod have a new LP coming apparently which I'm looking forward to and I'd like to see more from Death Worship.  

Thank you very, very much for making the time to answer these questions, any closing comments are all yours....

Thanks for your time and support, much appreciated!


'Apanthropinization' by Abyssal and Carcinoma will be released on digital formats and CD by Goatprayer Records on the 30th March - follow this link to pre-order what will easily  be one of the years' best releases.

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