Desultor – Future Bleed Machine
By: David E. Gehlke
The retro thrash boon that took place a few years ago soured quickly and got bad…really bad. The current old-school death metal revival that is taking place threatens to be equally as rough for those in search of fresh-sounding bands. It’s like everywhere you turn a new band is rehashing old Dismember and Entombed riffs, beating their chest in the name of Autopsy. It’s no different than four years ago when you couldn’t walk out of your house without being greeted by some lackey in a jean jacket and high-tops whose band had heard Infernal Overkill the week prior. Metal sure likes to cannibalize itself sometimes, doesn’t it?
Disregarding the mini-rant above, a fresh face has emerged on the scene in the form of Stockholm’s Desultor. Their approach is totally in the extreme death metal vein, but with one BIG caveat – they primarily use clean vocals. Such a combination is incredibly difficult to conjure up, yet on the band’s Masters of Hate debut (Abyss Records), the duo of singer/guitarist/bassist Markus Joha and drummer Mikael Ibrahim light a fire under the DM scene’s ass with an array of all-guns-blazing forays like “Another World,” “Denied,” and “Division Insane.” Equally progressive and melodically-minded, Masters of Hate is a carte blanche for those who find value in bands like Death, Cynic, and Atheist. Quite the mighty group to be in.
With what is surely to be one of the year’s best debuts in his back pocket (the band formed in 2007), Joha was kind enough to answer Blistering’s questions, so read on and learn something about a band that hopefully will be one of the underground’s top-flight acts in the near future…
Blistering.com: You’re a new band, so relay everything that has happened prior to the release of Masters of Hate.
Markus Joha: We are two guys from the poorer areas of Stockholm, Sweden. We love to play metal together and jam and write music together and now we have come to this point that we had to release a debut album after several years playing together in several bands, projects and tours. People seem to have problems to decide what genre we play in. We know it´s a new sound that people hasn’t got used to yet and they are still pretty chocked like when people saw Kiss for the first time because of their crazy makeup. Now they react the same way and not for the way we look, but for the way we play metal. We like to call it "extreme metal" because we play pure metal, but we are taking it to a lot more extreme. Except for the sound, we also think the album has a lot of great tunes and glad that a lot of fans enjoy it and critics and media as well, so where we stand right now today feels just pretty damn awesome.
Blistering.com: What drew the two of you together?
Joha: We played a lot together in different bands and projects when we both worked as session musicians. We realized pretty quickly both our capacities where a lot more special than the ones we played with. They were very good players but when we both played together we realized that there was something extra between us. I had a band that we just played one crappy demo together with older members so Mikael Ibrahim jumped in and we both started the band from scratch and started to play our own ideas and now the band is Desultor. We recorded another demo with the band, but with our own fresh new ideas and decided to put all our money on it and press 40 professional CD´s which we sent to 40 different labels. I recorded the vocals, guitars and bass and Mikael played the drums. We also put the demo on MySpace and it was a success for a demo since that we got like 3-400 listeners each day. And since then we have just grown stronger as a duo every day.
Blistering.com: There are only two of you in the band, so how quickly are you able to pull material together?
Joha: Very quickly. Every time we go in to the studio we got like 20-30 different new songs to pick from.
Blistering.com: Are there any plans to add additional members? Or will you remain a studio-only band?
Joha: No, we are tired of four and five band member drama, this duo thing fits us better. With this way we can work every process faster without any problems and when we gig, we just ask friends or session musicians like ourselves to play with us so there is no problem at all working as a duo. We still have a lot of people around us working with us and [it] helps us out a lot with our stuff, but in the music creativity, it´s only me and Mikael who writes and decides.
Blistering.com: What’s the songwriting process like? And do you find it difficult to put clean vocals on top of extreme death metal?
Joha: It´s like a big musical playground for us. There is no rules or laws, it´s up to us to do whatever we want to do. We decide our own rules. We don’t care if people wouldn’t like our stuff, we would still continue playing our stuff. There are too many rules and principals in metal these days and we prefer to think outside the box, so we prefer to work this way. No, there are no difficulties to put clean vocals, it´s just plain fun to me. Only difficulties is that there is no studio that can record clean vocals to extreme music because they are used to record growl and black metal screams, so it´s always pre-adjusted to that kind of vocals. And also the sound guy on gigs doesn’t know how to put the vocals in the picture if he hasn’t heard us before or give us a chance to a soundcheck.
Blistering.com: The fact you have a clean singer in extreme death metal is certainly unique. What is it about having sung vocals that appeals to you more than standard growls and barks?
Joha: Thank you. We just think it fits well with our sound and we recommend more people to try it out!
Blistering.com: The album is divided into two chapters. Can you elaborate what they’re about?
Joha: It´s a story that continues to the next album with chapters 3 and 4. It´s a theme in four chapters which we are working on right now.
Blistering.com: What’s your opinion of all of these bands simply rehashing Stockholm death metal ala Entombed and Dismember? Do you think they’re making death metal regress as opposed to progressing?
Joha: They are old-school bands that still goes out to a lot of people and we will probably become an old-school band some day in about 20-30 years.
Blistering.com: Masters of Hate definitely pushes some boundaries on songs like “Another World” and “Division Insane.” The cool thing is that you find one or two central ideas and focus on them. What’s your approach to putting songs like this together?
Joha: We just love to jam and put the most awesome stuff we come up with and put them all together. We love to play with the simplest ideas to the most complex ideas and put them all together. We don’t know why a lot of people love certain songs from the album extra more than the others. We are just happy that people actually like our stuff!
Blistering.com: Are there any bands in Sweden or abroad you feel a sort of kinship with?
Joha: All the bands out there has their own genre. It´s hard to explain, but they are the only ones who think like we do.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2012?
Joha: First of all, we are going to push the debut album when it reaches to Europe next week. And then we are going to do some interviews and different projects until the summer comes around. Only then I can take some time off from work and do maybe some touring or a lot of gigs as possible! And enjoy life!