!!!OLD SCHOOL BLACK/DEATH METAL FROM SLOVENIA!!!
We had a conversation with Andrej (Guitars/Vocals). Enjoy!
Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Tell us a few things about ENSANGUINATE (Members, Starting Year etc).
There had been plans and a wish to start a band that purveys the same kind of atmosphere and mixes black and death metal from the earliest days of the genre for quite a long time; however, 2020 was the year things finally felt right, so we got things underway. After that, things kicked into high gear and we've been keeping the fire burning strong ever since. Our current incarnation is Grega Cestnik on drums, Krištof Ocvirk on bass, Jaka Črešnar on guitar and myself on guitars and vocals.
In 2022 you released your album ''Eldritch Anatomy''. What was the feedback from your audience as well as from the press?
The feedback was quite something to say the least. While both major and minor outlets in the press did pick up on it, what matters most to us is seeing someone describing or showing themselves listening to the album in their own way or being told how they connect to the subject matter. When someone feels at home in the darkness and connects to our music, that's the response that matters to us.
The cover artwork has a great atmosphere! Tell us a few things about it.
Thank you. It was done by Khaos Diktator. I'll let the listener interpret the details and what the concept means to them, but in broader terms, the idea behind it is the mortal coil representing the border between physical reality – life - and the murky, swirling void of death the character on the cover is moving towards. The subject matter behind the cover was deliberate and outlined to Stefan, who put his own twist on our vision.
What about the lyrics of the album?
They definitely tie into the cover concept and the name of the album. As this is death metal, i.e. the metal of death, the subject matter everything on the album revolves around is quite clear. Each song takes a different approach to dealing with death, though; there is philosophy and even linguistics in the lyrics, some of them lean on Slovenian literature, all interspersed with a dose of what I like to call occult pessimism. The lyrics serve as keys, charms and periapts if you will – I'll let the listener decide to what end, see where the album takes them.
Congratulations for your official music video "Vile Grace". Tell us about this experience of making a video clip.
Thanks again. It was a wild ride and a pretty ramshackle experience with a bit of improvisation and a healthy dose of trespassing. The acted shots were filmed in an underground location; the temperature shocks were quite the challenge, as we shot it in the middle of a heatwave in what is basically a desert climate, but we had to repeatedly descend into an underground maze with marble walls which was, for all intents and purpose, a cold, damp cavern, so the shivers on camera are actually 0% acting. The band shots were shot at Castle Haasberg, which is a location in central Slovenia with a very rich history that has changed hands numerous times throughout the ages. The castle is mostly ruined and we picked the evening hour deliberately, again to tie into the theme of liminality, the crossing of thresholds.
How did your cooperation with Emanzipation Productions occur? And what do you prefer most, Label or DIY and why?
They presented the opportunity to release the album, and especially when it comes to vinyl, DIY can be very cost-prohibitive. Generally, I like the control of DIY but from my experience, labels hardly ever impose on the artists' creativity anyway so in a sense, you're still doing a large part of it yourself even if you're on a label. We recorded, mixed and mastered the album ourselves and we selected the artists for the cover and layout respectively, so there isn't much a difference in the end.
Is there any funny or weird story from the recordings or from your live shows that you would like to share with us?
Live shows can present some rather absurd situations. For every person who is in tune with what our band is about, there's going to be someone who's clueless as to what a black/death metal live show should entail. Needless to say, there's been people who took offense upon being told to fuck off, got surprised by showers of blood and wine, or simply got insulted by our very presence onstage. There's also been instances where audience members didn't respect the notion of actual fire being present onstage as much as they should have. Only singed hair so far though, no human fireballs.
Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
Physical formats are king. I enjoy vinyl a lot for its size and simply the act of having to get up and flip the record, however I would be remiss not to mention CDs were simply what was most available when I was a kid, so I grew up with them, which is why they're still special to me. I think each format should be given the treatment it deserves, seeing how they're quite different beasts. I mastered »Eldritch Anatomy« differently for vinyl and digital, the page breaks are different in the layout, and so forth. These differences are something we would like to explore even further in the future and I'd like to see more bands do as well.
Your music style is Black/Death Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
If I were to describe our sound, it would be Morbid Angel and Dissection played through the lens of Bathory and Celtic Frost. Of course, there's »newer« bands we appreciate that helped steer our mentality as well, such as Repugnant, Kaamos and Death Breath, and of course Nifelheim is a mandatory mention here. Classic heavy metal and '70s rock, especially of the occult variety, have always been a looming presence in our sound but they've been coming more and more to the front in the material we've been writing recently.
Which things do you think a band should sacrifice in order to succeed? Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future for your band?
Material sacrifices such as time and money are par for the course, and equally unimportant in the grand scheme of things when it comes to all creative endeavors. Thinking outside of the material, we try and surrender ourselves to the music and approach it with full devotion. Mentally and spiritually, I'm only interested in artists that commit themselves fully. As far as success goes, again, the physical rewards come and go but the sense of accomplishment of »hitting the mark«, meaning successfully transforming a notion from occultism, literature and spirituality into music, which conversely can reduplicate this initial impulse when the music is performed or listened to, is the most important form of success. Whatever demands such a creative process has must be met.
Describe your ideal live show as a performance band. Have you already experienced that?
I would like to think we haven't. Chasing this ideal is part of why we keep playing live, so in a sense, I would like to get as close to it as possible every time but shifting the goalpost a step further with each show. Every show where we can connect with the nature of the music and evoke the atmosphere of the songs that sparked their creation is a successful one, and the stronger this connection turns out, the better the show. There have been instances where this hasn't been the case, usually due to us landing in wrong environments for this kind of music, meaning there were material disturbances in the form of equipment giving out and clueless individuals either attending the show or working on it, so the ideal show would definitely be completely devoid of those. Incense and fire are definitely elements that help achieve a connection with our music, and we'd like to extend this idea further – performing in the wilderness would be a good fit and something we'd like to do in the future. Performing in a historical building or religious edifice would also be a good, albeit ironic fit for the antinomian nature of our music and something we would be very keen to explore.
What attributes do you think that a new Black/Death Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
Well, identity should come from the individual performers, their tastes and personalities. I think that following one's music taste when writing and performing music should take care of that automatically. Bands that intentionally invent gimmicks (be it sound or image) just to come off as unique or »innovative« tend to grate on me more often than not. I'm perfectly content with hearing a traditional heavy metal band where the singer simply uses their natural voice to let their identity come across rather than a bunch of clowns trying to hopelessly mash different sounds together that should have no business all being in the same song. So long as they singer and the instrumentalists aren't trying to copy someone else's riffs or timbre, that's plenty enough identity for me. I'll take quality over uniqueness any day of the week.
Do you believe that Digital Platforms help the new Black/Death Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a band to promote its work?
Playing live, absolutely. As for digital, it's a double-edged sword. On one hand, the comfort of having whatever you want to listen to at your fingertips can be an asset. On the other hand, it's precisely too much comfort that creates passive listeners. I actually believe this has changed the way metal is written and performed, because digital listening often means people's attention drifts off, which has made for a lot of »washed out« sounding bands without a lot of meat to their sound. Some bands capitalize on this state of absent-mindedness, which is not something we're about. Metal to me has always been about going for the jugular with a riff-based approach, and that tends to go very well with sitting down with a physical copy.
Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in Slovenia (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
To put it bluntly, it's not in good shape. There's definitely good bands out there - Hellsword and Challenger come to mind as two who are keeping the flame alive, with a couple of other names floating out there as well. However most metal bands just tend to copy whatever's trending on YouTube at the moment, so I don't really pay them much heed... Black, death, heavy and thrash metal aren't exactly well represented, I'm afraid.
The number of physical zines is zero as far as I'm aware, and while there isn't much in the way of actual metal clubs, Kvlt of Seitan booking is doing a commendable job of putting on some great foreign touring acts such as Burial and Bastard Grave.
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
Of course. Aside from your usual suspects from the 90s such as Varathron and Rotting Christ, my favorite band would probably have to be Dead Congregation, possibly even surpassing the old guard. I like a fair bit of black metal from Greece, however a new discovery I've been listening to quite a bit recently have been Triumpher, who are a fucking blazing heavy metal band. I've always been well aware of how devoted Greek metal fans are to the old ways of underground metal and traditional heavy metal, which is why Greece is definitely a bucket list destination for us.
The last 3 years, worldwide in the world, we have faced many dark, strange & new situations in our everyday life (covid, lock-down etc.) Did all of this affect you positively or negatively?
It definitely steeled us, seeing how we basically got the band going a month or so before COVID hit and all the lockdowns started. In a way, it made us improvize and adapt to the situation. Doing preproduction demos for the album in our rehearsal bunker with whatever broken microphones were lying around at the time definitely added to the vibe, which was already one of facing adversity – this is something that had been lacking from metal and it felt good to work on the music in an environment with very few creature comforts and little in the way of recording equipment. That said, getting going with playing live and then going into lockdown mode was definitely irksome, and the pandemic definitely put a number on the whole live circuit.
What are your future plans?
We're lining up a tour with Burial from Italy in February, as well as some festival appearances next year that are looking very promising if the line-ups should materialize the way they're looking now. It's always good to play with bands that inspire us and that we're fans of ourselves, and it's something I sincerely hope is going to continue well past 2024. We are writing new material that's delving deeper into our roots, be they occult black/death metal, heavy metal or even '70s rock. The new material is definitely shaping up to be quite the ride and we're already playing some of it live. The next step is of course to record it and release our second LP; I hope we'll hit the studio later next year.
Thank you very much for your time & keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Thank you for the questions and the opportunity to speak our minds, it's a welcome one. You feature a lot of bands we like, so it feels like we're in good company here. Watch out for the tour in February if you're in Central Europe – rest assured, the ancient flame burns ever brighter.
By Steve the Filthy Dog.