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Thurisaz

Wervik, Belgium based Thurisaz occupies a special place in the metal scène. It might be rather hard to pigeonhole their genuine compositions into one genre, but elements from black, doom and death surely make out the most important components. Melancholy and compelling melodies relish this well-tasting recipe and we can abundantly enjoy that on the new, fourth studio album ‘The Pulse Of Mourning’, also reviewed this month. We did not only have the opportunity to see the band live this month (see concert reviews), we also had a nice chat with vocalist/guitarist Peter Theuwen. The debonair musician told us everything about the newest developments within Thurisaz!

By: Vera | Archive under different metal

Well, starting with something fresh: you played recently at Darken The Moon VI in Brussels and that was a reunion with long time friends Saturnus. How do you look back at this evening?
First of all, it was great playing there. We were not sure how the crowd would react, since all other bands were doom bands. But the crowd was very enthusiastic about the songs, including the new ones we played. It's always cool to meet our brothers of Saturnus again. We've been on a few tours together and it's always great to see them again, on and off stage. Saturnus has played a significant part in our career and it’s always fun when we meet; and like always it feels like yesterday since our last tour. We were very happy to play at the Darken The Moon fest. We were not sure what to expect of an all doom festival. It was also a first test case to play our new songs live. But the reaction of the crowd was great.

Again four years have passed since previous album ‘The Cimmerian Years’ was launched at the world, the same time as in between previous albums. I guess it is a smart and logical decision to take the time maturing new compositions, something like ‘quality over quantity’ for Thurisaz, isn’t it?
When we write songs we definitely take our time to think about our compositions. Every note, every stroke has to be spot on or we wouldn’t start to record it. If we look back to the pre-recordings of our songs, we have like at least ten versions of each song. It takes us a while to reach the point where everyone is satisfied with the result, but we prefer this over making twice as much albums with songs we don’t like anymore.

Yet we can announce that a lot of things happened during these four years. I see numerous gigs in Belgium, but also some exceptional trips. One of the most unique experiences must have been the concert in India early 2012. So, please tell us all about that happening and how did you manage to be invited?
We got in contact, through Facebook, with Nicky from Unseen Underground. He asked us if we wanted to play a concert in India. At first we were like: ‘we’ll see, who knows. Maybe he can pull it off.’ But when eventually he did manage to put us on a big festival we still couldn’t believe it. And we kept that feeling through the whole journey. It’s such an amazing country and we had such a great response from all the fans over there, we felt like we were dreaming all the time. It is definitely something we would like to do again! At the moment, Nicky is working hard to get us back to India, so fingers crossed…

What was different over there for instance? What struck you? Did you have some time to do some sightseeing?
We stayed for another week after the concert and Nicky was an excellent guide. Thanks to him we got to see the other non-touristic side of India. We visited many extraordinary sites, were even blessed by an elephant hehe. I think it is a country you love or hate, but we simply fell in love with the culture and the people over there. It is crazy to see how people who have that less, can be so happy and friendly. It certainly puts things in perspective for us.

Istanbul is another special feature. What about your first gig in Turkey?
Throughout the years we noticed that we also have a lot of Turkish fans. So when we had the chance to play in Istanbul, we didn't hesitate. Thanks to Erdem, another friend, we got a gig in Istanbul and it was amazing to notice how many people really know our music there. The highlight was when the whole venue started to sing along with ‘Endless’. Shivers all along!

In the meantime I see there were some switches on bass. What happened?
Hannes, our old bass player, took a different road and decided to part ways with us. We had a new bass player during a year, but unfortunately it didn't work out. With the acoustic shows in mind we decided to ask Hannes again, because he already knew all the songs. We are very grateful he helped us out there. But after the shows we had to fill the gap again. A few auditions later we encountered Nick Meganck. He's a great guy, with loads of experience on the international scene. And since our other longhaired colleagues cut off their hair we had to have at least one who could do the headbanging hehe… We have re-found a lot of energy thanks to him! I think we are back in full force for quite some time now!

Now we are going to focus on the new material. I think ‘The Pulse Of Mourning’ is the most complete album of Thurisaz, serving all aspects of your broad sound, even adding some slightly new things. Do you agree on that?
I certainly agree. We never released an album before that's so diverse. You could say it's a synopsis of all our previous albums. You can hear the more blackish metal influences from the earlier Thurisaz but also doom and death are not far away in the songs. But we kept in mind that all of this shouldn't compromise the structure or balance in our compositions. Like we said before, we take our time to compose and every note has to make sense.

How would you, as creators, compare the new album with previous works?
After ‘The Cimmerian Years’ we quickly knew we wanted to go back to the aggressive style and sound of ‘Circadian Rhythm’. But it's not at all a copy of that album. We have evolved a lot in the eighteen years we exist and each album is a logical next step. So you can expect a mixture of the last two albums. But I personally think that we have never created such good songs before. We took good care that there were no "leftovers" this time, we stand 100% over all pieces.

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I found out that the single ‘Patterns Of Life’ was the first song written, but some more details about the writing process this time would be nice… When did you start, was there a kind of direction or focus you decided on before the start, etc…
The first version of the song was made more than two years ago. It has changed a lot since then. With almost every idea we have, we try to let the melody sink in our mind for a while. This way we get new ideas involving structure or melodies. Sometimes we wander so far away from the original idea we make some new songs with those elements. But for this song specifically, it took us around two years and countless rehearsals to make the song exactly like we wanted.

By the way, amazing to pick out a lengthy single…
We don't have many choice as it comes to length haha… The average length of a Thurisaz song is 6min30seconds. It's not on purpose but each fragment or piece has its meaning.

Another thing that struck me is that there is more room for long emotive solos. Do you agree on that?
It is the first time there was room for such a thing. We don't sit down and think "I'll write a song with a big ass solo at the end", it simply grows like that. But it's cool, since it's a new element in our music. We always try not to repeat ourselves and keep reinventing ourselves. And the first time we played it in our rehearsal room, there was no discussion. It was the right place and time for a long and emotive solo.

‘One Final Step’ is an impressive illustration of that. Since this happens to be one of our favourite tracks, can you tell a bit more about this composition?
We chose this song to make a video clip of. It's a song in three pieces: it starts out pretty heavy, there's a very calm and atmospheric intersection and an end with a long emotive solo. We have worked with calm intersections in the past, but never in this way. It's a song in which both lyrics and music collide perfectly.

We know that Thurisaz writes confronting lyrics about all emotions of human kind, but what were things that inspired you to write some lyrics this time?
Yes, as always the themes of our lyrics are rather dark but at the same time talk about every day’s pain. The themes vary from divorcing to saying goodbye to a lost child... Not very happy themes at all, but unfortunately a reality for many people.

Is there a special reason for the choice of the title ‘The Pulse Of Mourning’?
The title is based on a poem of Maya Angelou. I think it sums up perfectly the atmosphere of the new album. All songs have a depressive feel over them (mourning), but also a certain drive (a pulse).

I know you considered once in a while going abroad for recordings, yet CCR Studio is once again the place where you eternalized the new songs. Anything special to mention about the recording adventure this time, the production and final mix?
The only thing we changed this time is that we did the master in Tailor Maid Studio in Sweden. But it's true that CCR feels a bit like home for us. We've known Kris for years now and there's a big respect from both sides. There's a relaxed atmosphere in CCR and that's exactly what we need. We can't work in a rushed environment.

As mentioned before, you are working on your first video clip, the first one after eighteen years! Well, we’d like to know more about this experience…
We have waited for a very long time to record a video clip, because we wanted to do it right. It had to be done professionally and had to offer something different then the average video. When we saw the work of Jeroen Mylle we immediately knew he was the right man for the job. He has his own vision and that reflects a lot on his work. He's also a very nice guy to work with, so we hope to work with him again soon.

Are there guests on the album?
Els Blieck has helped us out once again. She also featured on ‘The Cimmerian Years’ and the ‘Live & Acoustic’ album/DVD. She has a very talented voice and has a great personality too. It's always an honour to work with her.

Indeed, Thurisaz is also known for its selected acoustic shows and recently that was eternalized with the release of the DVD/CD ‘Thurisaz: Live & Accoustic’. That must have been a challenging organisation, moreover since you played with a string quartet. Can you tell a bit more about this experience?
We've been working for six months on this project. We had done acoustic shows before, but never on such scale. This time we wanted to bring a full experience with additional live strings, live projections and a cool lightshow. We eventually sold out the venue two times and had very good response. We recorded everything as a souvenir, but it turned out that good that we decided to release it. I'm glad we did, because it gives a chance to people to discover another side of Thurisaz.

What can you tell about the artwork on the visual side of the presentation of ‘The Pulse Of Mourning’? Jeroen Mylle seems to be a new important partner?
The artwork for this album was done by singer/guitar player Mattias Theuwen. This time we tried to bring an iconic feel to the cover and I think Mattias covered that perfectly. All photos on the album are made by Jeroen Mylle. He also has his own distinctive style in his pictures, he doesn't go for the average picture and that's cool.

What are the plans for live gigs and hopefully some touring in near future?
There are a lot of gig offers coming in, also from abroad. It's good after two years of near silence to be back on track again.

You have reached a lot during the existence of the band, but of course sometimes it needs perseverance – surely in Belgium – to get things done. You have played on three continents and released four albums and a DVD now. What are current hopes and goals for Thurisaz in the near future?
Eighteen years ago we could not have dreamed to be where we are now. It has not always been easy. With the bass player troubles, there were some times we asked ourselves if it still was worthwhile. But now, with Nick joining, we have found back the energy to go for at least another ten years.

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