Darzamat from Poland are around for more then a decade, but I guess that there are still many metal fans who won't know them. Their latest piece of work Solfernus' Path should change this now - and singer Flauros answered some questions to enlighten you!
Even if you started back in 1995 there are many metal fans who won't know you, so please introduce yourself to the readers!
Darzamat was created in the latter half of the 90s. Back then we recorded two things: the full-length album In The Flames Of Black Art and MCD In The Opium Of Black Veil. Then, after a long break, we released an album which was a signal for me to start thinking of changes in the band. The Oniriad album, which is what I mean here, was a huge compromise between musicians who naturally steered in opposite directions.
In 2003 we had a revolution in the ranks and the result was simple: I was the only one who remained of all the pre-2003 era musicians. This resulted in a serious change with reference to a new musical direction, our style and image. I wanted to refresh Darzamat, which basically meant putting a new band together. Before, it had been really hard for me to find a compromise with the original founding member, Simon. Our visions as to what the band should sound and look like had been completely different; our priorities had differed. Back in 2003 I even thought I should start a totally new project, but many people made it a point to convince me to continue with Darzamat. That is why the history of the Darzamat-as-we-know-it-now really dates back to 2003. This fresh lineup has been responsible for Semidevilish, Transkarpatia and Solfernus' Path, as well as the DVD Live Profanity. We also began playing live, which we hadn’t done before, in the 90s. That band had been solely a studio effort.
Your last album Transkarpatia was released in 2005, why did it took 4 years to release a new studio album?
Transkarpatia was released in December 2005. That was quite bad luck as the year 2005 was practically lost for this album. In 2006 and in the first half of 2007 we focused on promoting the new material playing gigs. In the meantime, we got down to making Live Profanity, our first DVD which came out in the second half of 2007. No sooner had it done, we started working on Solfernus' Path. The album was recorded and ready to be released in autumn 2008. Then, we decided not to extend the contract with our former label, the Polish Metal Mind Productions and started negotiating with labels. After a couple of months, in the spring, we finally dealt with a German label Massacre Records. They decided that the album would be premiered on 28th of August. As you can see, we weren't loafing around, however due to circumstances we had to wait for the new album so long.
In the past you worked with Andy LaRocque who this time played a solo. Why the decision to record on your own and let Jonas Kjellgren do the production?
This decision was made due to many factors among the most important was a short deadline. Jonas was free then and he could make this job for us.
We were well acquainted with Jonas's previous production work: Katatonia, Sonic Syndicate, Centinex or Steel Attack, to name but a few. But it was our friend Marek Dobrowolski, drummer for One Man Army and the Undead Quartet, who recommended Jonas to us, as he had worked with him before and knows his skills and abilities first-hand. The preliminary talks with the Scar Symmetry guitar player made us feel very optimistic. Jonas mixed one song of ours and the effect was staggering. It only reinforced the idea that it had to be him. The cooperation was smooth; Jonas is very patient and listens carefully to any sort of suggestions from the band. In my view, he is presently one of the best young generation producers, in Europe anyway.
As for Andy La Rocque, he did make his appearance on the album, but in a different role. He played a guitar solo in our song, King Of The Burning Anthems. Andy is not only an excellent guitar player and a producer, but also a great personality. Yes, we did meet during the sessions for our previous album. We've been in touch ever since, and when another occasion for cooperation arose, we didn't hesitate for a second. Him playing a solo on a Darzamat album was a dream come true; it was really supernatural that he agreed to participate in the sessions. This is the most important album in the history of the band, and it took us a lot of work. We poured loads of energy and emotions into it, and the presence of LaRocque on this album is the crown jewel in the whole structure. I take enormous pride in the fact that he is there, because so far all the records he has appeared on as guest performer are special. Just look at the list: Death Individual Thought Patterns, At The Gates Slaughter of the Soul, Evergrey Dark Discovery, Dimmu Borgir Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. And now we are on that list as well! (laughs)
I must admit that the situation during the Solfernus' Path sessions was very comfortable. We weren't concerned with economizing at all: our sole concern was the quality of the album, which is why during the sessions we worked in as many as three different studios. All the instruments and vocal tracks were laid down in Poland under the scrutinizing eye – and ear – of our sound engineer, Jaroslaw Toifel. We worked on the drums and guitars in HH Poland studio in Gliwice; the vocals were done in Maq Studio. As to the keyboard parts, we got these done in Red Room studio. For each instrument we chose the most optimal place to lay down the tracks and we spent quite some time analyzing all the elements of this puzzle. We listened to various bands produced in those places and at the end of the day we didn't have any doubt as to our choices – they were simply perfect. The only thing that mattered was the effect total, and we are positive it will satisfy the biggest of malcontents. Hence, the process of recording took us over a month; after that, the songs were mixed in Sweden by Jonas Kjellgren – the Scar Symmetry axeman – in Black Lounge Studios. Frankly, it turned out that Mr. 'Perfect Symmetry' was in no hurry either: his work took around four weeks. But I'm the first in line to admit that the finished album sounds excellent, so it was well worth the wait.
It's your first concept album, what made you decide to do a conceptual piece this time? Please tell us a bit about the story! And who is Solfernus?
Yeah, for the first time in our history we decided to create a concept album. The idea was a novelty, but to be honest we had been thinking of such a move for quite some time. Since the days of my youth I've been fascinated with concept albums, such as released by, say King Diamond. So that move was simply unavoidable, it was just a question of time.
A coherent story to be told by lyrics and music alike is much more of a challenge than fashioning ten new songs in the same stylistic vein. As the story unfolds, so does the music and both elements have to go hand in hand. It is, in a way, like a movie script, created to pull the audience in.
The story told on the album takes place in a mystic scenery as provided by Countess Josephine von Küchmeister's manor, the inspiration for which we derived from two truly fantastic places in Silesia, namely the Willa Caro in Gliwice and the palace in Plawniowice. The tale itself is set in the beginning of the 20th century. Our main hero is a young medical student who undergoes a spiritual transformation – he experiences the existence of the incorporeal world and perceives the other side. The whole story is permeated by a fairytale-like atmosphere, full of occult key concepts. Nothing is obvious, nothing is predictable.
Naturally, the eponymous Solfernus is not the main hero, he's just a gray eminence. This character is respectfully lifted from a work entitled Playing With The Devil, written by Czech dramatist Jan Drda. Still, this is just inspiration, an impulse which does not mean we take Drda's story as-is. In fact, his play is grotesque and rather humorous. Our story, on the other – left! – hand (laughs) has a totally different character, closer to horror stories of a Polish classic Stefan Grabiñski than to the work of the Czech playwright.
You are now on Massacre Records and so have better distribution and promotion. Did you already got some feedback? And how satisfied are you?
As far back as in the late 90 we were close to signing a deal with them; unfortunately it didn't come through. So, after all these years we are all the more thrilled to see that the Solfernus Path ultimately led us back to Massacre Records door (laughs) and that finally we will have a chance to work together.
As far as our expectations are concerned, we'd really appreciate much better promotion of our band than we experienced before. The previous companies we worked with had much, much smaller possibilities. That is why I'm positive that thanks to Massacre Records we will take a leap forward. I firmly believe that the experience which the MR staff has gained over the years will result in the chance for many more to even get a hold of Darzamat's albums. We put a lot of hope in the promotion and distribution prospects of the Solfernus' Path album and also we are really looking forward with great curiosity to seeing the fruit of our cooperation with Massacre Records over our future albums.
The very first opinions on the new album are very enthusiastic. Nevertheless we need to wait for the album to be out to get the fair reactions from different sources. When it comes to the press on us, we surely read the reviews with interest, but always keeping our distance. We never let the others to give shape to what we do.
Usually we don't hear a lot about Polish bands, do you think that the media and so the fans are too much focused on the metal hotspots?
The media and fans mainly focus on bands promoted by the biggest labels. Quite a few people look for bands which don't usually make the front pages of metal magazines. However I don't feel like judging anyone. This is a fact you can accept or refuse. But even if you don't like it, there is nothing you can do to change it. Unless you make the front pages as a musician. (laughs)
Can you play live in Poland? Any chances to see you abroad?
Naturally we want to play as many gigs as possible to promote our new album. At this moment we are in the process of looking for the right concert agency which would lay their support for us. I hope that in a couple of weeks we will be able to disclose what our choice in this matter is.
Still, we want to get some action before that is settled, so we started booking the dates ourselves and this year we are playing festival in Belgium. Also, in February 2010 we are scheduled to do a 10 gig tour of Poland. We're looking forward to some serious touring around Europe in a good company.
Talking about live... Which band would you like to tour with?
There are many bands we would like to go on a tour with. We would fancy playing with Arch Enemy, Moonspell or Samael. Frankly, I could mention so much more bands... Anyway, the most important for us is just to feel good in company of another band. You know when people are supposed to spend a couple of weeks together, it's better when they are on the same wavelength.
What are your plans for the rest of 2009?
I'm pretty sure that we will be promoting the new stuff in the near future. We will soon start working on new tracks. It seems it's gonna be tremendously hard as we should record a better stuff than Solfernus' Path (laughs).
I also must add that next year we plan to release our side project albums. On autumn, we will be involved in making new music. Our singer, with a little help from our axeman Chris, is preparing a debut album for something called NeraNature. Nera lends her name to this project, which will be closer to alternative rock, as it evokes the spirit of The Gathering or Katatonia rather than the true metal roar. There will be loads of great harmonies and melodies, so watch out for that.
As for me, I'm in for a little exhumation session as I'm planning to 'reload' my forgotten old band, Mastiphal. We already got together with the guys for a couple of rehearsals and we filled them with dirty black'n'roll, so you can expect tough and non-compromising music coming your way.
Sounds like these guys are really busy and that music is truly their first love. I hope we will hear about Darzamat hitting the road and get news about NeraNature and Mastiphal!