Monday, September 30, 2013

... into the crypt of Durham : an Interview with UNCOFFINED

To me, there's 3 essential releases coming out in October, naturally you'll read about all in these pages... Two are coming from the States but first for today is  Ritual Death and Funeral Rites - debut album by british evil Doom band UNCOFFINED !!! Haven't heard yet of this sinister quartet and their about to be registered trademark "DOOM METAL OF DEATH" ??? well, follow the guide, enjoy their creepy journey into Doom like you've never heard it before, heavy as a ton of sated zombies and as morbid and terrifying as 95% of the blackened Sludge bands all together !!!  Check out the album NOW and not in three months when the masses will put it as the best overlooked album of 2013;)

Hail Kat, welcome in the Temple and thanx for answering the following questions !
Hails Steph! Many thanks for this interview and the opportunity to reach more unsuspecting souls via the Temple!.

You tagged your style as “Doom Metal of Death”, how could you describe it to innocent ears?
Well I would basically describe it as a cross between old school Traditional Doom Metal and old school Doom/Death with some nihilistic misanthropic Sludge influences (Grief) and also the spectre of Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost looming over some parts. The Trad Doom Metal influences are more prominent musically overall, for example you could easily put normal sung melodic vocals over a lot of the riffs on our album and it would just sound like Heavy Traditional Doom Metal but we chose to utilise harsher more sinister sounding death growls and screams instead throughout the album as they help to create a more evil atmosphere. There is some faster picked deathy sounding parts musically aswell as some uptempo Frostian parts but the Trad Doom Metal influence from bands such as Early Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, 80'S Candlemass is the most prominent musically overall. DOOM METAL OF DEATH is a perfect description of our mix of styles and influences and I have never seen another band call their music that.

Lots of bands think they play death/doom because there’s some melancholy and slower moments in a few of their songs but to me it often still remains Death metal… I think there aren’t that many bands who mix true Doom and Death or death and true doom… hahaha! in any cases you’re the doomiest and heaviest at the same time I know and of corpse the most brutal vocally wise…  even Hooded Menace is faster and softer  than you !!! what’s your opinion on this and what are the main characters that you wanna highlight in your music ?
Thank you for the kind words and the compliments! I must say though I am personally a HUGE fan of Hooded Menace and have a lot of respect for Lasse and his musical work and they were one of the first doom/death bands of more recent times to bring in obvious influences from Candlemass, early Cathedral etc..which definetly did not go un-noticed by myself. Some people do seem to think just because a death metal band has some slow or doomy parts that they are "doom/death" but to me a true doom/death band has way more slower-mid paced parts and less faster death metal sounding riffs, 3 of us in the band are longtime fans of Traditional Doom Metal and that love for such music is very obvious in our own music and songwriting and is definetly the main influence overall as I said before you could easily put normal sung vocals over a lot of our riffs and it would just sound like Trad Doom Metal. That is where we are different from quite a lot of so called "doom/death" bands..we are not a death metal band just playing some slow parts here and there, we are more MUCH more Doom Metal than Death Metal musically it is just the vocals that really make us sound more death metal. Musically we just want to create an evil morbid sinister eerie cold dark atmosphere....the aural equivalent of a dark haunting sinister figure lurking amongst the shadows and graves of an old untendered graveyard that no one dares to enter especially at night!!. Someone described us more more or less as "Evil Doom", that is also a perfect description.

It is true that a great part of the album consists in  trad’ Doom mixed with death growls and incantations, are you satisfied with the way you sing on the album ? can we imagine at some point some normal singing (exceptionally or not) in the future ? do you think this would imply some different kind of lyrics? 
I am VERY satisified overall with how the vocals turned out on the debut studio recording they help to create the dark, morbid and evil atmosphere we were looking to create. There is no plans to start using normal sung vocals anytime soon even though I do have the ability to sing normal sung vocals but I do not think they would be appropriate in Uncoffined. But time will tell...I can safelt say that for the forseeable future I will just stick with doing morbid death growls and possessed screams.

There’s regular horror movies samples in the album which enhance the creepy atmospheres, where did you extract them from ? was it a collective work on this ?
The samples are taken from the old Hammer Horror films "PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES" and "THE DEVIL RIDES OUT". It was my idea to use these samples as I am a very big fan of old Hammer movies and have always liked bands who use samples from such movies as they do as you said "enhance the creepy atmospheres" and fit the lyrical subjects perfectly too for example "Twisted Shape Of Creeping Terror" is about undead zombies rising up from their graves and "Ritual Death And Funeral Rites" is very influenced by The Devil Rides Out and the subject of clandestine satanic rituals, ritual sacrifice and summoning dark evil forces from beyond this world.

The cover artwork is pretty much alike the album : terrifying ! who did work on this  and which of his previous works did decide you ?
A Swedish guy called Ola Sjoberg is responsible for the very striking album cover, he took the lyrical concepts and album title and that is what he came up with and we were collectively blown away when we first saw what he had came up with! He has desgined the whole album inlay aswell as the front and back covers and we couldn't be more satisified with the overall final result! Ola has done design work for my other band Winds Of Genocide and I have always really liked what he has came up with design wise so I asked him if he would be interested in designing our album cover and fortunately for us he was and we have have PERFECT album cover now!. Tack så mycket Ola!!.

How did you come to sign this deal with Memento Mori rds ? were the label’s attitude and bands roaster as much important as financial and release conditions for you ?
Well, our debut studio recording was actually originally intended to only be a PROMO DEMO we didn't go into the studio expecting it to be released as a full length album but a couple days after we got back from the studio I sent Raul an unmastered track that we had put online with the help of a friend, Raul really liked it so asked to here more so I sent him the whole recording and he got back to me saying he really liked it and thought it is good enough and long enough in length to be released as a full length album and then offered us a deal to release it as an album and also offered to get it fully mastered propely so it would sound more like an album. We immediately accepted his offer and here we are only a couple weeks from the album coming back from the pressing plant at the time of typing these answers! I was already aware of some of Raul's releases having done some trading with him aswell as following his labels/release activities for a little while. The album was mastered by Javier Felez (also guitarist in death metal band Graveyard) at Moontower Studios in Barcelona Spain and he did a GREAT job with that! The album was recorded/mixed by Bri Doom at Studio 1in12 Bradford England and he did an awesome job too!


I know you’re a big Trouble fan, so why did you choose to cover Revelation’s “frustrations” (from Never comes Silence), was that a more difficult challenge ? will you send a link or CD to John Brenner?
 3 of us in the band namely myself, Jonny Rot (Lead guitar) and Gory Sugden (Bass) have been HUGE fans of Revelation since the early 1990's, in fact the old Doom band which all 3 of us were involved Blessed Realm was named after a Revelation song. We were discussing about doing a cover and Gory suggested that song and so we all agreed and it turned out really well. It took a little while until we got the cover "nailed" so to speak but I am very happy with how our recorded version sounds. I asked John for permission to record it which he was totally cool with. He has heard the cover and said he is very flattered by it and thinks we have stayed very true to the spirit of the original musically although the vocals are harsher of corpse. I will send John a CD copy of our album too. He also said our Revelation cover is the first he has heard so that's pretty cool!. Revelation have always been quite an underrated band in my opinion and hopefully this cover might make some more people check them out!?!. So many bands have done Trouble covers but not covers of Revelation songs so again it is something abit different.

How do you manage to share your time between Uncoffined, Winds of Genocide, Terrorizer blog and yours “a blog in the northern sky”… ?
I currently do not have a full time paid job so I have plenty of time on my hands right now!. Also both bands rehearse different weeks sometimes or at least a few days apart so there is no problem with both bands getting in the way of each other at the moment. I guess there will be times when one band is more busier and active than the other that will demand more focus and attention but that won't create any problems. 

In the mid 90’s you were playing in a band called Blessed Realm, some kind of Doom Rock as we can hear it regularly for a few years now… if I remember well, you told me that there should be released a compilation of all your demo recordings, right ?
There is no official plans for a demo compilation at the moment but it would be cool to see some of those old demos reach more people as Blessed Realm remains a very obscure entity even within the Doom scene..there will be alot of newer Doom metal fans that will not even be aware of that bands existence due to the very underground status of the band. One of our demos that was recorded in early 1998 "Return To Zero" has just had abit of a sound overall, some slight mastering done by the guy who originally recorded it and it does sound better than the original recording. Uncoffined currently features 3 ex members of Blessed Realm and I must say it is so great to be playing in a band alongside Jonny Rot and Gory Sugden again..we go back a long way as friends aswell as bandmates and things have never sounded better between us musically!

I know you’re not really into the actual Doom scene, what does bore you the most in it ? guys looking like old hippies from the end of the 60’s ? trendy occult images ? … ?
I have a love/hate thing with the modern Doom scene...and I must admit I do miss the days of the 90's Doom scene when it seemed more close knit and a lot more friendlier even when everyone who was into such music seemingly knew each other, all the Doom bands back then wrote and traded with each other and there was no trend bullshit involved in the scene or trend followers into such music as it was one of the most unfashionable and untrendy/unpopular music scenes to be a part of back then and the scene was full of die hard doomheads who were genuinely into such music for the right reasons plus it was before this "drone" music which a lot of people have associated with Doom since the early 2000's...where are the fucking RIFFS in that shit?!! To me playing a 40 min long drone of the same chord is NOT DOOM!!! fuck those bands...boring as fuck...I blame SunnO))) for starting that shit trend.

Anyway so yeah that drone stuff bores me to sleep, one of the things I hate about the modern Doom scene, if it hasn't got interesting riffs and tempos in it then I am not interested, same goes for a lot of this "Funeral" Doom's just this same slow tempo mostly, playing slow for the sake of playing slow..shut up, slit your wrists and kill yourselves already!!!...ALL THE BEST Doom bands throughout history have had mid tempo and uptempo parts aswell as plenty of slow parts, Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Candlemass, Pentagram,  Solitude Aeturnus, Cathedral, Revelation, Penance etc... so yeah these modern bands that play slow for the sake of playing slow bore me shitless. Also there is definetly a current trend of "occult rock" bands and quite a few it seems with female vocalists that the media and record labels seem to be tripping over each other to either sign or feature and some bands are clearly exploiting that seems that any band with a female vocalist who is posing with a fucking skull and can play a flute or sing about the occult is being hyped....there is a some good female fronted bands in this style that stand out, Blood Ceremony being one but some of these bands do not do anything for me at all as they are clearly just hopping on a current bandwagon and sound like lame stoner rock bands with a female vocalist. I would rather listen to the Coven album "Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls" anyday than some modern flavour of the month trend band playing 3rd rate Sabbath riffs / 70's hardrock riffs trying to be overly 60's occult and "retro" and "witchy"..another reason why I do the kind of vocals I do as I do not want to be lumped in with most of these female fronted "occult rock" bands. We stand apart from them, we are a DOOM band not an "occult rock" band. I have always been heavily interested in the occult and satanism and was writing about such subjects in my old death metal band back in early 90's so this is not a subject I have recently just started to flirt with because it is "cool" to do so. I am very much interested in such subject matter on a personal level but I won't go into that.

As for modern "Doom" / hardrock hippies...again I remember when wearing bellbottoms/flares back in the mid 90's was frowned upon by a lot of people and those who wore them were looked at as some kind of social outcasts and retro throwbacks by the majority of the music scene and society in general... for example some of the looks I got from people in my hometown back in the mid 90's when I was in Blessed Realm wearing Vitus/Pentagram etc shirts and huge bellbottom flares were ones of "WTF....who is this freak" people looked at me like I had been beamed down from another planet but is seemingly very cool and fashionable to dress and look like you just stepped out of the late 60's/ early-mid 70's and that is reflected in the modern music scene hence why even labels like Nuclear Blast are jumping on the bandwagon and signing flare wearing hippie-ish retro sounding bands when 15-20 years ago or so they would not have touched them...a lot of stoner rock bands for instance have also traded in their fuzz pedals for flutes and a cleaner sound over the past decade...I do like some of these modern retro hippie-ish bands like Witchcraft but Magnus was playing such music back in 90's in another band long before it became remotely cool but some of them are so fucking boring.....but trends come and go in the music scene and outside of it, we don't care about following trends, we just do what we do and the fact 3 of us were playing in another Doom band years ago before such music became even remotely "cool" and "fashionable"  speaks for itself. Anyone who says we are jumping on a Doom bandwagon clearly needs to research the roots of this band and it's members.
But in closing....We play DOOM METAL OF DEATH not some trendy retro stuff.  In league with Satan not Saturn!.

I’m much older than you, so your memory is certainly fresher than mine… we met sometime in 1995 in Germany at a gig of my  friends band Astral Rising playing with Mirror of Deception… what the fuck where you doing there ?! I don’t remember much except of course great times with nice guys, lots of beer , pot and beer, a visit at Nuclear Blast office, beer and pot and beer again !!!
Well I have just turned 37 years old so I dare say you are not TOOO much older than me Steph (hum, I'll be 45 in November!) but yeah I remember our meeting each other, fond memories of hanging out with yourself and the Astral Rising guys for a few days, getting drunk etc... I was in Germany at that time visiting my old friend Jochen Fopp the guitarist in Mirror Of Deception for a week or so...Those couple of shows were a lot of fun to be at, even though I do cringe at the time I got up on stage with Astral Rising and tried to sing a Black Sabbath song but was so drunk I forgot the fucking words! hahaha! I do also remember a tambourine was involved at the 2nd gig in Heidelberg (I think it was?!) - Fun times!.

If you allow me, let’s speak about your (old and new) self… About ten years ago Steve became Kat Shevil ,  I presume that you’ve had to face hard days, starting by certainly a long process to make it happen ?  From whom look have you had the most to suffer ?
Did this mature in your mind for a very long time ? Do you feel just simply happy and blooming now ?
No problem to talk about this at all although I do not bring it up in interviews unless prompted to do so as I do not want my gender being the main focus of the band, I would rather we let the music do the talking and be the main focus but I guess it will come up as a subject from time to time. Anyway Yes it has been a long process from initially "coming out" to transitioning from male to female to where I am in my life now and the whole process is not complete but I am currently much more happier, comfortable and more confident in and with myself. I have had to face some shit like predjudice from people both within and outside the music scene but those people do not matter to me, they just make my will and determination even stronger and more resilient. But I am much more happier living life as a female doubts about that!!!
my gender identity issues stem from a very early age when I was 4/5 years old. I was very aware of the fact I felt I should have been.born female since I was a kid it just took me a while to confront it/deal with it properly.

Now that the album is about to be released, hopefully Uncoffined should be more active on the LIVE front… starting with 2 dates this month in Scotland ! Are there other dates or a tour in the works ?
Well those two shows are the only ones we have planned/booked outside of the local area right now but we do want to play more across the UK and also in Europe and other hopefully the album being released will help to bring about more opportunities to play live further afield and in other countries and even possibly continents. We also have our album release party/show here in Durham City in November (16th) which should be a fun night of drinking and doom!

Are you cumfortable with playing drums and singing in Live conditions ? one could easily think about Chris Reifert, but as drummer/vocalist do you have a kind of model or special influence ?
Yes definetly, We have only played 2 live shows so far with myself doing both drums and lead vocals at the same time but it has worked out fine so far and I have felt very comfortable (I have practiced this a lot in rehearsals too)..I am still learning and it is something I can only get better at doing the more we play live and the more experience I have at handling both in a live environment.
Chris Reifert is definetly a HUGE influence on me when it comes to drummer/vocalists. I have always been fascinated by his ability to be able to do both live, same goes for drummers like King Fowley from Deceased... I remember seeing pics of him drumming/singing in old zines like Putrefaction Zine and thinking it looked really cool and was just fascinated by that whole concept of playing drums whilst doing lead vocals at the same time so those two guys are drummer/vocalists I have respected for a long time and have most definetly had a big influence on me when it comes to playing drums and doing vocals together. But I can't forget to mention people like Dopi from Machetazo, Dino Somesse from Dystopia, Ventor from Kreator to name a few who I admire a lot when it comes to drummer/vocalists.

Time to end now Kat, what bands have you been listening to, when answering this interview ? Any French stuff played sometimes ?
I have been listening to various stuff on my MP3 player whilst typing out this interview on a computer at the local library everything from Anti Cimex to Saint Vitus has been playing in my ears! French bands...hmm...recently my friend copied me an album by the old French heavy metal band Nightmare, good stuff!!.

Please remind us all purchase details for the album and add something if you want !!! thanx
Our album "Ritual Death And Funeral Rites" will be out on CD via the Spanish deathcult Memento Mori by mid October...www.memento-mori-es ...the pro cassette tape version will be coming out also via Underground Movement in Ireland. We will have copies to sell aswell sometime in October. Many thanks for the cool interview Steph appreciate it!

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