Tuesday 16 July 2013

20 Questions w/ Victims of Creation

Malta, a southern European country found in the Mediterranean sea, south of Sicily and north of Libya One of the world's smallest countries and formerly part of the British Empire.  No, The Sludgelord has not turned into a tourist information centre, we specialise in bringing you all that is heavy.  What Malta is home too,  no not the Malteser but the kick ass Death/Doom metal band, Victims of Creation, who released their amazing debut record this year on the excellent, Cyclone Empire label.
Having been kicking around for over 20 yrs in some form or another, it is surprising that VOC have only released one record.  Therefore, because we loved this brilliant record, including the awesome artwork too, I thought it would be great to get the lowdown about the band, and find out, why indeed has their debut record been 20 years in the making.  Sit back, swig a cold one and enjoy another riveting instalment of 20 questions.   I give you Victims of Creation. 
SL)     Hello gentlemen, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us here at Sludgelord. How you all and where are you are guy’s right now then?

VOC) Greetings! Thanks to you Mr. or Lord Sludgelord for this interview.  We are fine despite being unbearably hot here in Malta.

SL)  Some of our readers may not know you too well. Could you give them a brief history of Victim Of Creation?

VOC) Definitely! Well, in the beginning there was darkness, matter was condensed into an infinitely small volume of infinite density, a singularity, then ….. after about 4.5 billion years, Homo sapiens made the horrible mistake of descending from those comfortable trees to enter a new age of darkness.  
In 1992, four lads used a mixture of death metal and doom metal as a medium to express the darkness, melancholy and sadness that accompanies human nature as Victims of Creation.  After a number of gigs through 1994-95 and a song featuring in a Maltese Metal compilation in 1996, guitar players left and band progress came to sudden halt.  

Small island, small population, smaller metal scene and an even smaller number of good musicians that like slow, funeral tempo and depressive music meant that remaining founder members, Dino (drums) and Rex (Bass, Vox) struggled to find suitable recruits.  Although both Dino and Rex kept active in the local scene via a number of projects/bands, Victims of Creation was practically inactive for many years.  

The band’s existence seemed to be plagued! Every time a good guitar player that also ‘felt’ the style was discovered, thereby rekindling hope of resurrecting the band, he left the island for greener pastures, demolishing any hope and material that had been constructed. 

Finally,  in 2009, after guitarist AJ Burd (ex-Lithomancy, ex-Tree with Dino and Rex) returned from the UK and after the return of Daniel Bartolo from Australia (ex-Griffin Device also  with Dino and Rex), Victims of Creation returned back into business, starting everything from scratch.  A number of successful local gigs including the (MDM) Malta Doom Metal festival convinced Martin Purr from the very well respected record label “Cyclone Empire” to sign us up in 2011.  We then released our debut album “Symmetry of Our Plagued Existence” in 2013 at the highly acclaimed German doom metal festival, “Doom Shall Rise” (DSR).

SL) So what are your plans to see out the second half of the year? Any big touring plans or festivals?

VOC) The “guitarist plague” seems to have infected us again!  Daniel, our lead guitar player left the band almost immediately after our DSR concert so in the meantime we are still looking and auditioning potential replacements, which as explained previously, is not an easy task in an island were human resources are limited.   Also, we really want to start writing new material for our second album, increase our repertoire to include also a couple of shorter songs since in a festival, very long songs can be a problem to fit in a limited time.

As regards gigs, we are still a small relatively unknown band.  Festivals and tours would really be our next step, something we would really like to do and a “dream come through” kind of thing.  Being an Island provides some serious logistical and financial difficulties.  Some festival organisers have expressed interest in including us in their bill for 2014, however, for now, we have only confirmed a show at the MDM 2013. 

SL)  We loved 'Symmetry of Our Plagued Existence here at Sludgelord and our man, Markwell wrote a brilliant review. Are you feeling confident heading into the live arena armed with such a killer record?

VOC) Indeed! Thank you for such a fantastic and “graphical” review! We really enjoyed reading it and are very glad that you liked our work.  Overall we had very positive feedback from various reviewers.  Our live shows also resulted in positive and encouraging comments.  A participating and head banging audience makes all the effort worthwhile!  We had the opportunity to test the reception of our live performance away from home to a totally new audience in Germany at the DSR festival.  The audience was fantastic and we received many compliments from both the audience and other band members after the show.  This of course allows a certain degree of confidence that individuals into doom metal are likely to enjoy our performance.    Of course as a band we need to gain more experience abroad to properly assess such a statement. Hopefully, once we find a suitable guitarist we can start searching more aggressively for gigs abroad. 

SL) This is album number One for you guys.  How did the recording process go? Does the finished record live up to your expectations, given that you’ve been band for nearly 20 yrs?

VOC) Overall, from the feedback received, we believe that our debut is meeting, even exceeding to a certain extent our expectations.  True, the name “Victims of Creation” goes back a long time, yet, the band started practically everything from scratch in 2009, recycling perhaps a riff or lick here and there from the previous ‘era’. 

Our main goal was simply to enjoy playing the music we love most – doom metal with its various “shades”.  It was prompted by the insistence of our friends and band members from the local doom metal scene.  They knew what kind of musicians we were and that our shows back in the 90’s were exceptional so they insisted we should be present in the first Maltese doom festival.  We did not expect that our music would be so well-received, that it would lead to a record deal and that our music would be distributed globally. 

During 2010-11, we could only meet for a few rehearsals due to Rex’s work but managed to write enough material so that after being offered to work with Cyclone Empire we could start recording in November 2012.  We recorded the drums and vocals at a friend's studio (Steve "Lombardo").  During December 2012 we recorded the guitars and bass in our own rehearsal studio.  Daniel did a lot of pre-production work while Steve did the mixing and mastering. 

We tried to capture our live sound as much as possible.  Production was oriented towards an old-school, heavy yet clear sound.

SL)  So, Malta?  A veritable mecca for heavy music? How is the heavy music scene doing there in 2013? Could you tell us about some of the upcoming bands emerging from your home country?

VOC) Despite the small size of the country we have a healthy metal scene with bands representing almost any kind of metal genre.   Thanks to some passionate people that organise some local festivals such as the Extreme Metal Assault (XMA), Malta Death Fest and of course the mighty Malta Doom Metal Festival (MDM) there is a more or less regular showcase of local talent.

Some bands like Forsaken, Nomad Son, Weeping Silence, Beheaded, Abysmal Torment, Loathe, Slit, Martyrium and Prayer for the Dying are well known and very well respected not only locally but also around the world. 

Relatively new upcoming bands definitely worth checking out are It Came From The Desert (ex-Slit), Deluge of Sorrow, Shadowborne and Dawn of Anguish.

SL) Your record has a distinctive epic feel to it, meshing elements of death, doom and sludge. Where do you think VOC stands within those varying genres?

VOC) It was always our characteristic to integrate the above mentioned elements to various degrees in different songs to express a particular mood.  Definitely, old-school doom-death would be the closest definition but we do not really like to label our music.

SL)  Who are some of your biggest influences?

VOC) We were brought up with old-school Death metal bands such as Carcass, Obituary, Immolation, Entombed, Gorguts, Edge of Sanity, Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Decomposed, Death and alike but we also listen to various other genres in rock and metal. Like many from our generation, we passed through the Thrash era and also witnessed the beginning of sub-genres such as Sludge, Stoner, Funeral Doom and Doom/Death, all of which are genres (or sub-genres) we enjoy listening to immensely and of course the influence pops out somehow.

Surely, our major influence, apart from the above mentioned bands in the old-school Death metal sphere, would be bands like Cathedral, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema in their early albums as well as various other bands such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Thergothon, Godsend and of course the mighty Black Sabbath!

SL) Staying with influences, do you like to play any covers live? If not already, are there plans to play any covers live, or do you aim to keep your set strictly original material?

VOC) No, currently we do not play any covers.  There are many bands we would like to give tribute however for now our aim is to focus on creating and promoting our own material. 

SL) Is VOC a full time gig, or do any of you have to hold down the fort with other employment? Do you find touring hard to organize around this at all?

VOC) Earning a living by doing what you like best in life would be a perfect life!  Unfortunately this is not the case.   “Victims of Creation” is an endeavour we have to do in our [limited] free time after work.  This of course does have a toll on the creative process.  For example, due to Rex’s work, we could only meet for a couple of months in 2010 and 2011.  Touring would be something we really require to do so as to spread the name and gain more experience.  Once the opportunity presents itself, however, we are sure to be able to make the needed arrangements. 


SL)  Are you a fan of heavy music blogs? If so, how relevant do you think they are given the state of the recording industry in the present day?

VOC) Blogs are a very important tool to view opinions, receive criticism, discover new bands/music and remain updated on the global metal scene.  We do recognise their importance and whenever time allows we do read a few.  Time, is however limited so we cannot really say that we are hard-core blog readers.

SL) Staying with the modern recording industry, where do you stand on format? Are you fans of the physical or do you believe that downloads having merit?

VOC) We stand with the policy of Cyclone Empire i.e. to distribute and listen to an album in its physical format complete with artwork and all.  We are sure that like us, the listeners’ experience is enhanced in this manner. 

SL) Going back to your record do you have some favourite cuts from the new record? Anything that you particularly like to play live, or that has been well received by audiences?

VOC) We all have our own personal favourite parts in the different songs, in fact we find it difficult to choose which song we have to leave out during a live set when time is limited. Worth mentioning is the fact that 'Glorious Deceit' with its clean vocals is very well received amongst individuals into epic doom while 'Those Left Behind' goes down well with people having a greater affinity to the Death Metal spectrum.

SL) Let's get technical, as your genre can be extremely. Do you have any favourite gear setups, or choices of product that you use? What would you recommend to our readers who wish to play a similar type of music?

VOC) Experience has taught us that simplicity is often better!  We use quite standard equipment such as Gibson and Schecter guitars and Spector basses, valve amps such as Marshall (JCM-900,800), Laney (GH100L) and Ampeg (SVT-2PRO) amps, Pearl drums and Zildjian cymbals.  Of course due to down tuning we have to set our guitars properly, using heavy gauges, custom sets of strings and flatwound strings.  We often like to simply crank up the volume of an amp until it suffers or use some multi-effects processors such as BOSS and KORG (toneworks). 

SL) What are your opinions on younger bands getting famous overnight, without paying any 'dues'? Is it all just BS, or do you think that they suffer long term by not gaining real road experience? Do you think it's sad that they might be missing out on those early experiences?

VOC) Well it depends on the musicians and/or their creativity.  It does not matter if they are young; if the product is good and they deliver a good performance their work should be promoted.  Of course, achieving something through hard work and sacrifices yields more personal satisfaction and allows the musician to gain experience and maturity.

SL) People always love a humorous tour incident! Got any to share, or are they all too ugly for public consumption?

VOC) Unfortunately we have never toured as yet.  The only foreign gig we played in was at the DSR and the experience was something we cherish.

SL) It seems crazy to ask with such a fresh record out, but how long do you plan to tour Symmetry of Our Plagued Existence? Were there any goals that you set for yourselves with this album?

VOC) We would have liked to organise a few gigs here in Malta and abroad, perhaps a small tour yet since we are re-structuring our line-up it did not make sense to enter commitments we could not honour. 

SL) Do you have a dream tour line-up? Any bands that you would like to play with, either established legends or new up and comers?

VOC) There are so many bands with whom it would be an honour to share the stage with!  It would be cool if we could do a tour with our friends from Forsaken and Nomad Son.  It would be a dream tour if we could play with bands such as Cathedral, My Dying Bride, Isole, Swallow the Sun, Saturnus, Katatonia, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Ghost, Candlemass, Evadne, Hooded Menace, Serpent Venom and the like!

SL) Finally, thanks again for talking to us. The floor is yours - do you have anything you would like to say to any fans that are reading, or any shows that we should know about?

Thanks again for this interview and the great album review.  We would like to thank all the people who have supported us throughout these years and of course anyone that has bought our album!  We encourage the readers to come over to Malta, have a short holiday and experience the great-line up this year at the MDM.  Anyone interested in inviting us over for a gig or festival is of course welcome to contact us directly (victimsofcreation@gmail.com).  

As ever, show your support to the band by checking them out at the various links and buying their merch. This record is available everywhere now. Thanks as always to Jan @ Sureshotworx for the hook up. You can read Markwell's killer review here