First of all, how are you doing?
We're doing fine, Roel, thanks for asking! We're incredibly busy with the promotion of 'Mantiis' and also organizing a decent tour to present it through Europe very soon. But these days we just can't complain about having too much work.
Since this will be the first interview with you for Lords Of Metal, could you introduce Obsidian Kingdom to our readers through means of a small biography?
Obsidian Kingdom is an independent music project that plays hard-to-classify heavy music with plenty of contrasts since 2005.
I wanted to congratulate you with your new album 'Mantiis', I think it is an excellent album. How are the general reactions towards it? What are your expectations for the album?
Thank you! Truth is that it's already been downloaded more than 2500 times in two months, which beats all our expectations. Furthermore, feedback from both the audience and the music press has been amazing so far; 'Mantiis' is getting an average score of 9/10 in the more than thirty reviews that have been published to date from all over the world, and it has ranked in high positions on several “best of 2012″ lists among giants such as Neurosis, Ihsahn, High on Fire or AmenRa. We couldn't ask for more.
'Mantiis' isn't your first record, how would you say it differs from your earlier works?
Well, it is our first LP and a single-song album, to begin with; and that means this time we've put all of our effort in building a piece that would keep the listener entertained throughout its fifty minute length, while maintaining our personal flavour and overall coherence. Our early works didn't put up such a challenge due to their shorter extension. Regarding style, we've finally broken the mould of extreme Metal and that is one of 'Mantiis' main features. In it you will find solid approaches to drone, noise, dark folk or even free jazz, because we're developing a personal language that can encompass all of those languages without going off on a tangent. Our emotional palette has broadened and so has our speech. Besides, we have grown more mature both as individuals and as a band, we know each other better as musicians and we finally have found a peculiar sound, a personal lyrical content and a collective working pattern we're comfortable with. Long story short, we're starting to have a unique personality, and that is clearly shown in 'Mantiis'.
On the album we find many different influences, ranging from black metal to jazz and progressive music, yet the album sounds very coherent. How did you pull that off?
With a lot of foresight, a broad range of resources and an open-minded mindset. Taking into account that we wanted a one-song album from the very beginning, it is but logical to think that we were favourably predisposed to solving harsh dynamic leaps, laying out plausible transitions and seeing beyond the traditional idea of an album, which is a compilation of songs brought together for commercial purposes. Solving the puzzle was not always easy, but we turned the obstacles into stepping stones and took up the opportunity to experiment with alternatives and tread paths that we would otherwise hadn't thought of; always finding the best solution for each setback. We're glad to know that you think we pulled that off in a satisfactory way.
Apparently the album has a concept behind it. Could you tell us something about this?
'Mantiis' means a one-way trip to the bleak place where girls and insects dance to the sound of an eerie music; a post-modern rock opera with a non-narrative structure, the main themes of which are sex and death. It is but a masquerade through which we've been able to express some very dark emotions, divided into fourteen small chapters that make its assimilation easier. Take number fourteen, for instance; it is of vast importance in the conception and understanding of 'Mantiis', and its use is by no means casual. Its roots spread throughout the whole of the album in the shape of rhizomes and it might hold the key to solving one of the multiple mysteries hid behind our work.
The production of the album is absolutely stunning. Modern, clear and organic. Could you tell us something about the recording process? Did the album came out sounding the way you wanted it?
Thank you, we've put a lot of effort into the production too. Considering we were facing a hideously monumental structure, we planned each step very carefully. First, we did a pre-recording and a pre-mixing of the album with our own means, so as to have a very clear idea of the album and its parts before entering the studio. In addition, we have worked only with professionals whom we trust, ranging from our producer Jorge Mur – who is also our live sound engineer – to Jens Bogren – who has mastered the album – and including Mr Ax from the Ax Studios in Barcelona – a long time friend of the band – or our collaborators of choice – Fiar from Foscor and Nicholas Dominic Talvola. Furthermore, we've been present and active in each and every step of the process, making sure that everything was done to our liking. That wasn't possible during the mastering due to geographical distance, but the work Jens Bogren has done for different bands we respect – such as Katatonia, Pain of Salvation or Opeth, just to name a few – made us think we had nothing to be afraid of. And yes, in the end we're fully satisfied with the sound quality of 'Mantiis' and we wouldn't change a single note of it.
Amazingly, you aren't on a label currently. Is this a conscious choice from your part or is it just a case of bad luck?
This is an absolutely conscious choice. We've come to realize that we know the music industry well enough so as not to need any middle man to ensure the edition, distribution or promotion of our work. We do all of those things from the bosom of the band and we have our own online store that distributes our products worldwide. It implies a gargantuan amount of work but it also means that we have full control over the content of our music, over the quality and price of our editions and products and also over the way we chose to communicate with our audience. Our listeners and customers have already understood our bet and they are making our project work just fine; so far, so good.
You seem to be an ambitious band, so what are your ambitions for Obsidian Kingdom?
Yes we are. We only know one way to make things work, and that's thinking big and working our tails off. Our ambitions are quite simple, though: we want to keep doing what we do and we want to be recognised for it. Nothing would be greater than living off of what we do best, and that's making music. We're already working on that, too.
Can we expect to see you playing live in the near future?
For sure, we're already preparing a European tour that will surely happen sometime between the end of spring and the midst of autumn 2013; hopefully perform in some summer festivals as well. Regarding the Netherlands, we are already working on some dates there; you might be able to see us live sooner than you think. Stay tuned to our online feeds for some very exciting news about that!
I want to thank you for your time answering these questions and I wish you well. The traditional final words to our readers are yours.
Thank you Roel for this fine interview and let us send our kind regards to all the readers of Lords of Metal worldwide; we hope that you will be able to enjoy our live show very soon. Meanwhile, remember that 'Mantiis' is available for free download at Bandcamp. And also remember not to take candy from strangers.