Top 5 Albums To Take Into The Void w/ Execration
Chris from Execration joins us this week on the Friday Guest List to discuss their new album, touring, and all things spaaaace!
Hi Chris, how’s things in the Execration camp? Last time we spoke you had just wrapped up recording for the new album, are you pleased with the response so far?
Yes, very much so! And somewhat baffled. I mean, most of the feedback has been really good. But being on a relatively bigger label than last time we’ve received attention from a bunch of new places. It used to be that we got attention from “the underground”, and this audience would typically “get” what we were doing and judge our output on that basis. With the latest album out on Metal Blade we’ve been reviewed in lots of new places, and it seems to me that some of the more mainstream press don’t really understand what we’re doing. I’m not saying that in a demeaning manner, it’s just that we’ve hit some outlets that are used to more easily genre-confined stuff, and some reviews have reflected this collision of worlds.
One of the first things I noticed about Return To The Void was the different drum sound, it’s quite unique and while it took me a couple of listens to get accustomed to it I think it suits the album’s cosmic concept really well. Was there a conscious effort by the band to find a sound that emphasises the sci-fi themes presented or does this surface naturally through your playing styles?
The drum sound is actually something of a clash of ideologies. We originally recorded the album with a dry seventies style production in mind, and did the initial mix this way. However, the whole thing came out missing “something”, and we changed mixing engineer. Tom, who did the final mix (and also who mastered all our releases so far) envisioned a much bigger and bolder sound than we had set out for, and so the drum sound is the result of a seventies recording thwarted towards eighties drum sound in the mix. We were quite happy with the result of this experiment and went for it. So I guess the answer to your question is “a little of both” and a little bit “art by accident”.
Zbigniew’s incredible cover art is one of the most striking pieces we’ve seen this year, how much input did you guys have in its creation?
We’re very happy with the cover as well. Although I do not in any way want to steal Bielak’s thunder, it really was a close cooperation. The cover is based on the same basic concept that was the basis for the lyrics and much of the music on the album, and was our conception originally. We worked with Bielak for some time, trying to pass along the underlying concept for the album, and I guess the artwork is his interpretation of the lyrical concepts. As it happens, it coincided closely with our conception, so that was a huge success.
In our previous interview you mentioned that you were working to make a slightly shorter album to fit on a single LP this time around, did this involve cutting out much material or just condensing what you had?
We started the writing process with this idea, so really, it underpinned everything we did. We never consciously decided on whether a short album meant short songs or fewer songs, but we always kept a tab on whether what we did would map out to 2x~20 minutes, and we allowed way less repetition than earlier. It really was quite a fun experience. In the past we’ve always had specific goals for writing, but this time the goal was slightly more technical, and it proved to be a different experience. To answer your question more directly, there is not a bunch of material left out of this session.
Any tour news?
Well, we just did our release show here in Oslo, and we’re gigging the biggest cities in Norway shortly, then in January we’re hitting Europe. We’re also working on visiting the US in 2018. Nothing’s set yet, but I really hope we’ll make it over.
Are there any particular songs you’re looking forward to playing live more than others?
We only played the first two tracks live before the release of the album, so I’ve been quite giddy about most of this stuff. To single out tracks, I’ve been particularly excited about “Unicursal Horrorscope” and “Det Uransakelige Dyp”. The former because it’s probably my favourite track on the album, and I feel like it builds and ends up very intense in a way that works really well in a live setting. The latter because it’s our first ever song with Norwegian lyrics, and that makes a whole lot more difference than I’d thought up front. It feels more “naked” and direct, and there’s a special level of energy when we play the song. It is most definitely not our last song in our mother tongue.
Your topic you’ve chosen for your list today relates to space, what is it about the cosmos that you find most compelling?
It’s just mind-blowing. It puts everything else in a proper context. I remember watching Neil deGrasse Tyson’s documentary series Cosmos, and he explained that there are probably multiple universes, and outside those there might be something as well, but they’re so far away that light from them haven’t reached us yet. That just completely blew my mind. So I guess space is compelling for the simple reason that it holds so many mysteries without resorting to mysticism. I’m a man of realism (I studied STEM subjects) and don’t care much for superstition of any kind. But I do enjoy the escapism that is to be found in the yet uncovered mysteries of the vast space surrounding our word.
That sentiment is very relatable for me. Which brings us to the theme of your list for us today – 5 Albums That Take You Into The Void. Let’s get into it…
The following are five albums that have influenced me in some way or another, and that somehow ties into the theme of our latest album. I wanted to pick some of the less obvious ones, so I’ve been liberal in my interpretation of “take you into the void”. The list is in no particular order.
Nocturnus – The Key 
I guess this is the most obvious of the bunch. This is early Florida death metal at its very best, and it’s probably my favorite album out of that scene and era. It obviously gets attention for its liberal use of synth, which was a truly unique combination at this point. And the synth does add an atmospheric element that really sets it aside from most of its contemporaries. But it really is a riff-driven album. It’s technical death metal, but with shit loads of groove and feeling. The vocals are killing it. To top it all off, it’s a concept album with a sci-fi-infused story about destroying chistinaity. How can you not like it?
Voivod – The Outer Limits 
The Outer Limits, home of “Jack Luminous”, Voivod’s longest (at 17 minutes) songs, and one of their best songs to boot. There are other good ones on here too, like the opening track and The Lost Machine. But really, “Jack Luminous” is the star of the show, and I love how the entire album builds up to this momentous track.
Bloodlet – The Seraphim Fall 
Bloodlet started out as a hardcore/metalcore band in the early nineties, but by the end of the decade, they’d created something entirely of their own. It’s down-tuned, it’s progressive, it reeks of hatred, and it’s really, really trippy. I once read that they recorded the songs chronologically as they were written, and that makes sense. As the album progresses, it drags you into some dark, frightening place. The first few songs are straight-forward enough, but by the end it’s pure evil. I remember the website that launched with the album (yes, in 1998), it was this weird black and dark green thing, and it’s title was “2001: A crack odyssey”. I still to this day can’t name a single album that sounds quite like this. It’s unique, it’s dark, and it will definitely take you into the void.
Disasterpeace – It Follows [Soundtrack, 2015]
This soundtrack will void you out with its creepy plink plonk style synths. It’s a horror movie soundtrack that really manages to stay suspenseful and creepy. The movie itself aced the form of the classics, but in my opinion, the story and ending fell short. It was a bit of disappointment to me, after the buzz it gathered, but the soundtrack is stellar.
Rush – 2112 (1976)
I was late to the Rush party – really late. But when I first discovered this gem, I didn’t listen to anything else for months. A prog opus – the entire side A is one 20 minute song, with a sci-fi story about a distant planet in the far bleak future where there is no more music and no joy. Did I mention that I fucking love concept albums? I remember being slightly bothered by the guitar tuning in the middle of the track, but once I checked out the lyrics and understood how it all fit together I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Musically I think there’s still lots more Rush to make it over into Execration’s music.
That’s it for today. Make sure you pick up a copy of Execration’s excellent new album Return To The Void on their Bandcamp page or through Metal Blade. Show your appreciation on their Facebook page and keep up to date with tour news.
Previously On The Friday Guest List