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Thurisaz

With the recently released 'The Cimmerian Years' Thurisaz has created an album that will end up high in every year list of fans of atmospheric death/black/doom metal. Our Belgian pride has surpassed themselves one more time on this third studio album and only after many months of lengthy consideration in the studio, this impressive blend of emotive yet extreme music was launched at the world. We talked with vocalist/guitarist Peter Theuwen about the making of 'The Cimmerian Years' and what happened to the band after previous album 'Circadian Rhythm'.

By: Vera | Archive under different metal

Hello Peter! We did an interview for Lords of Metal in 2007, so let's pick up the thread around that time. At that moment you were about to embark on your first trip to the US. Let us start this feature with your impressions about being in the US for the first time…
That was an experience we'll never forget. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the Americans liked our music. The concerts we did were great and the response was really amazing. To top that, the touring partners in crime were Saturnus from Denmark and Novembers Doom from USA. We toured a couple of times with those bands and we consider them as good friends. Every tour we did with them was great and extremely fun! We would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Not a lot of bands get the opportunity to make the trip across the ocean and visit the States. We're very lucky and grateful to have done that. We hope we'll return again some day to promote the new album.

Later on, in 2008, there was also a European tour with Mar De Grises and Saturnus. What are the strongest memories of that tour?
As mentioned before, Saturnus we knew already from previous tours. Mar De Grises were new to us but it took us only one evening of drinking beers to get to know each other. Amazing people from three different countries! We were very lucky to hear them play all those shows each night! Those two weeks flew by in a blink of an eye. The time you're on tour is really intense and exhausting but it was the best time in our lives.

Now your excellent new album 'The Cimmerian Years' has been released. It means it took four years. When did you actually start writing new material and can you tell a bit more about this writing process?
We recorded a pre-production with our sound guy in November 2009. At that time we had finished writing only two or three songs but we had some pretty good ideas for new material. We started to take the writing process more seriously after that. But we are perfectionists and we have discussions about every little detail. Every stroke or note is there for a reason and that's the reason it takes us so long to write an album. Everyone in the band has a slightly different opinion about how music should sound like. So we try to reach a consensus where all of us agree with. At the end of the writing process we made songs with all of our influences and ideas but this consumes a lot of time. And when we entered the studio, we really wanted to be patient and tried not to rush into things.

In the meantime the first line-up change has occurred in Thurisaz. Why did Lars Vereecke leave the band?
We were one of few bands that could play in the same line-up for more than ten years. It was very hard for us to make that decision. The departure of Lars was the most difficult choice we ever had to take. We had some great times and have only good memories of the period we shared with Lars.

How did you get in contact with new force bassist Hannes Leroy and can you tell a bit more of his background. Did he have already a proper influence on the material of 'The Cimmerian Years'?
I played with him in one of my side projects. He also lives in our hometown and we knew he was an excellent bass player. Hannes is a great musician and has become a solid part in our band. He learned the older songs in a heartbeat and played a huge role in the compositions of the new songs. His musical background made us look to our music from a different angle and that was what we needed at that moment.

By the way: why did you choose the title 'The Cimmerian Years'?
After 'Circadian Rhythm' we had a downfall. The last years were not the most pleasant ones in our history. We had a line-up change and we had some kind of a writer's block. All music we made just seemed not good enough or was simply a copy of things we all heard before. But eventually we crawled out of it and managed to record the new album. "Cimmerian" is a synonym for 'pitch-dark', so The Cimmerian Years is a reference to the dark period we had. By entitling our album this way, we closed that chapter. Now, we are more excited than ever and we're looking forward to what the future beholds.

The recording process took longer than ever, although you returned to the familiar environment of the CCR Studios with Kris as producer. What can we see as reason for this long process and what were the main things you wanted to improve this time?
To be honest, we thought about going abroad to record the new album, but we soon realised there was no need for that. We know Kris for over eight years now and he's a great guy to work with. He has always been very patient with us and helps us improve the songs. The reason it took more then a year to record, was that we planned long periods between the different recording sessions. In that way we could revise the recordings and improve what's needed. Also, we raised the standard and tried to deliver a perfect album this time, in terms of sound and song-writing. So we didn't cut in time or money, the end-product had to be outstanding. I think the result is great, thanks to the help of Kris and Nik, our sound engineer.

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I have the impression that the new album includes more doom influences (nicely!) What are the reasons for this evolution of the band?
I think the doom influences were always there in our music but with this record, doom is more included indeed. We weren't really familiar with the genre before this album, to be honest. But we went on tour with some real doom legends: Novembers Doom, Saturnus, Agalloch, Mar De Grises and we found out that you don't need double bass drums and blast beats all the time in metal music. Acoustic arrangements and slower doom elements can also be very powerful.

Another main feature is that you have some eminent guest vocals on some of the songs. Please tell a bit more about the grand appearances of Paul Kuhr and Thomas A.G. Jensen, respectively from Novembers Doom and Saturnus…
We had the honour of touring with those guys and the first thing we noticed was how magnificent their vocals are. Paul has one of the most powerful grunts in the genre and Thomas can bring lots of emotion and depth in his voice. So we asked if they wanted to make a guest appearance on our new album and they didn't hesitate one second. They fit perfectly and they take the songs to another level. We didn't know what to expect when they recorded their parts but when we received it we were very
pleased!

The album cover is created by Geert van Mook. Can you tell a bit more about this artist and also about the booklet of the album?
He also made the cover for Astor Voltaires, a doom band from Chili with some members of Mar De Grises. So we took a look at his other artwork and we knew that was the atmosphere we wanted for our cover. Our cooperation went very smooth and he did an excellent job. Our cover is exactly what we pictured it should be. It's mysterious, dark and it draws the attention.

'The Cimmerian Years' will be released on a new label for you, Greek Sleaszy Rider Records. Why this change from Shiver and will there be hope for a better distribution? In Europe only or worldwide?
We believe that Sleaszy Rider could provide us a good distribution in Europe. The cooperation with Shiver was great, but we felt it was time for a new step for us. We hope this deal will open new doors and take us to the next level.

In the past I think Carl from LSP shop was an important man to organize some gigs. Are there any prospects for a new booking agency/manager or whatever?
At the moment we don't have a booking agency. Carl was the first to take us on a tour and we're very grateful for that. He organized many concerts for us and he's a very nice person to work with. We also had another tour manager, Adrian from Luggamusic, but unfortunately for us, he quit his job to make time for his family, which we understand of course. So, booking managers, if you read this: get in touch!

Soon you will play some release parties and most likely you will focus on promotion of the album. What are the other plans for the near future?
We're planning some shows in Belgium and the Netherlands. We also made contacts for other tours abroad but those are not confirmed yet, except the one in Ireland in September. We'll play three concerts in Dublin, Cork and Belfast. It's the third time in four years over there and it's always been a pleasure to return to that country. The Irish seem to like our tunes and we always had a good time.

With which bands would you like to go on tour, if you could choose freely?
We would choose every band as long as we get along with the other tour members. We wouldn't hesitate to go on tour again with all the bands we went on tour before. But if we could choose freely, I would say Opeth or My Dying Bride to name a few.

You will also join the farewell gigs of Oceans Of Sadness, another great Belgian band, but they suddenly decided to stop. Please tell us about your connection with those guys…
We are getting along pretty well with the lads from Oceans Of Sadness, they have the same attitude and visions on music as we have. We shared the stage, I don't know how many times and each time was fun! We find it very sad to hear they will stop. They asked us to join them on their farewell concerts and we didn't hesitate at all. We'll give those guys a party they will never forget.

As I understand there are also plans to tour abroad, not for tomorrow, but in a not so near future. So what about tour or promotion plans outside Europe?
We've been in contact to do a tour in the US, West-Coast to be precise, but we had to postpone that trip. We also made contact to tour in India, thanks to Nicky Sharma from Unseen Underground. If things work out, we'll make that journey some day, maybe soon.

Let's cross fingers! If there is anything you like to say to our readers to round off, feel free to go ahead…
We hope to meet you very soon on tour!

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