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Ensoph

Rare jongens, die Italianen. De metal-output lijkt daar wel in twee helften verdeeld. Terwijl de ene helft met galmende power metal onze oren terroriseert (enkele positieve uitzonderingen daargelaten), is er een andere helft dat het meer de diepte opzoekt en ons saaie burgerleventjes opleukt met eigenzinnige combinaties van complexe, extreme metal met elektronica. Bands als Aborym, Ephel Duath, Thee Maldoror Kollektive en ook Ensoph laten zich niet voor een gat vangen en experimenteren er lustig op los. Resulterend in een heerlijk potje koppijnbezorgende mengelmoes van… tja, van wat? Lees maar verder.

Door: Evil Dr. Smith | Archiveer onder

I just received your second full-length digital entity, entitled 'Opus Dementiæ', and it's reason for me to congratulate you with a successful successor to the bizarre creepy crawlings of your first 'Bleeding Womb Of Ananke'. A big and warm hooray for you! Nevertheless, I like to start off with the more critical questions, so we can follow by the more entertaining, light and more positive notes, okay?

First of all: it took about two and half years to fulfill this album. Does this really have to take that long? I mean, you're not Metallica (okay, bad comparison: they took even six years to come out with…total crap), you hardly played live and I had to blow the dust from your previous album to learn to appreciate and re-evaluate your music. So, what took you so long or has this (also) something to do with the record label switch from Beyond…Prod to Cruz Del Sur?


During the two years that stand between now and our previous production, we released a new promo, “Sophia” (containing 3 tracks then included in “Opus Dementiae”), useful for trying to find a better record deal than the Beyond…Prod.'s one. We disagreed with Beyond…prod. about the deal proposed for the new release, because it didn't respect what we had previously agreed upon by voice: no comment. We started to look for something better, and various labels contacted us for collaboration, so we decide to pre-produce the new album, to have something more professional to propose to greatest realities. First, we found an important Italian label that, in spite of its good reputation, acted like the smallest part-time label. After this annoying loose of time, we chose to consider only concrete proposals, in spite of famous names, and we found in Cruz del Sur the best partner to work with.

Like I just said, you're not Metallica. But who are you then? I think a LOT of people – at least our readers - still hasn't heard of you before. So can you tell me what they have missed so far? Or… didn't they have missed anything at all?

The band is born in 1997. Till now we have realized a MCD (“Les Confessions Du Mat”) in 1998, a full-length CD (“Bleeding Womb Of Ananke”) in 2001 and two promos: “Ananke Or The Spyral-Trinity Beyond Alpha And Omega” in 2000 and “Sophia” in 2002. The band is composed by six elements: Giuliano, guitars and programming; me (Zenone), drums; Nicholas, vocals; Massimo, bass; Leonardo, keyboards; Anna, flute. Some of us are involved in different side-projects: Bleed in Vain, The Second Coming, Day of Resistance, just to name a few...

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In my review of your first album I compared your sound, but your atmosphere in particular, with the infamous Devil Doll with hints of Death SS, Das Ich, Christian Death and old Moonspell. With your new album I think it has changed a bit. The folky (Rakoth-like) influences are diminished and we hear even more and more aggressive industrial and electronic elements in the vein of bands like VNV Nation and Wumpscut. It made me think of electronic post-black metal industrial bands as Solefald, …And Oceans, Aborym, but especially and above all The Kovenant during their 'Animatronic'-period. I mean, you guys even stole their gas masks! Does these comparisons make any sense at all or can you teach the readers that I am totally wrong?

I think the comparison with Kovenant is quite good, but we have a more gothic and progressive taste. I disagree with the comparison with the so called “post-black metal” scene; we're surely an extreme metal band, but I think we better could remind eclectic acts like the first Sadist overloaded with tons of electronics. We still hear unchanged in our music the gothic metal influences of the beginning, but, with dryer compositions, the rawer soul of our musical roots rise up with more intensity. About our gas masks, playing with some kind of “artist” it's impossible to stay without...

And tell me honestly: from which Goblin soundtrack did you steal the keyboards in 'Son Of The Liar'? I'll promise I won't tell anybody…

Argh, you discovered us! What about trading your silence with one of our t-shirts?

A great thing was that false piano intro in 'Salmo a Nessumo', which is followed by very sick and twisted doubled and echoing voices, and modern dance beats. I'll bet (the heirs of) Dario Argento would die for getting a tune like this. I suppose you guys are also very into (horror) movies? And what other forms of art or other aspects of life (science, nature, environment, economy, etc.) are specific influences in the music of Ensoph?

No one of us is so interested in horror movies. About specific influences of the band, I can indicate contemporary philosophers like Nietzsche, Cioran, Heidegger and the so-called crisis thought and literature. We're also interested in modern esotericism and various aspects of traditionalism revival.

It's not that I'm specifically fond of the angelic voices in gothic metal, but on the songs on your demo from 2000 there was also a female voice of a girl named Patrizia. I liked here voice and the way you used her voice in the songs. What happened with her and what's the reason there are no more female voices on your music? You try to omit any similarity with the average 'gothic metal' band? Afraid to be accused of 'following trends'?

We splitted up from Patrizia because we were both no more stimulated by the cooperation. She was absolutely out from every metal scene, she was not interested in the genre and when we began to experiment with more extreme solutions we agreed that it was better to separate one from the other. Female voice had its sense in the past musical context, but, by growing up musically, we thought it worthed concentrate us on Nicholas' work.

But you still have a female in your band: Anna. She plays the flute and is your Ian Anderson of the band. But Ian can sing as well. Anna can't? And why isn't she on the official press-photo's?

Anna lives quite far from us and, although she is an Ensoph's member at all, she takes part only to the more important live gigs; so our partnership is configured more like collaboration. She thanks you for the comparison with Ian Anderson, but we have definitively ended with female voices.

One last thing about female vocals: I saw somewhere that one of you guys is into Diamanda Galas. What do you think of her latest albums 'La Serpenta Canta' and 'Defixiones – Will And Testament' and isn't she (or a similar equivalent, how impossible this thought may be) one those unique females that is able to enrich the sound of Ensoph?

As in all her works, she confirmed herself the most disturbing and seductive incarnation of darkness and desperation, but we have still in our hearts her best performance of all times: “Vena Cava”. Ensoph compared to Diamanda Galas are like a grain of sand near a mountain, so I can't imagine a projection of her voice into our music.

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The shrieking parts as well as the diversity of Nicola's voice reminds me a lot of Dani Filth's timbre. Is this a coincidence that's hardly worth mentioning or does this English bloke influence him?

I know it may seems unbelievable, but Nicholas, with all the respect for the band, doesn't listen to Cradle of Filth, so they can't be consider one of his points of reference. I think the similarity deals with the fact that I am the author of the lyrics and I have a rhythmical taste that can remind Dani Filth's one. May I've been influenced by the listens of my youth? This aspect, together with a similarity of screaming, makes a really strange coincidence.

I read another review, which stated that the reviewer anticipated and hoped for even more avant-garde and musical experiments after he had read in the bio about your “unorthodox gothic metal avant-gardism with powerful electro/industrial elements, sick and disturbed orchestrations, unconventional extreme metal”. For me, your explorations drifts are quite satisfactory, but is this something that you are striving for in the future: even more tonal wizardry and stretching the frontiers of musical extremities?

We are experimenting with new musical ranges and I can assure that there will be some great surprises. Prepare yourselves to be stunned by a new powerful and controversial blend of ear-blasting industrial, hardcore terrorism, death rock and a pinch of glam'n' roll and self-irony... A refreshing experience for a new generation of listeners!

Call me commercial, but the song 'White Lambs Seducer' with its catchy refrain is my personal favorite of the album. When I take a look at the lyrics it's one of the very few that's is written in readable English. Most of the other ones are extremely cryptic philosophical and/or esoteric (at least for me) or sung in Italian, but mostly with a biblical context or with religious hints as well. It looks like that you guys are very fascinated in religion. Ensoph is bringing back childhood traumas when you had to go to church thrice a week?

“White Lambs seducer” tells about the mystery of matter's seduction of God. What kind of voice did God hear in the desert? Could it be his own voice? Can temptation be hidden in God's core? We're really fascinated in religion: in years like these, in which money seems to be the only force able to move the world, religion seems to have a residual power strong enough to shake the foundations of the earth. If we don't make us the right questions about this ancient sense's horizon, we can't be able to understand what really happens to this misfortuned West.

I don't think it's necessary to fully explain your lyrics, maybe it's even impossible, and it will also unveil some of the mysticism of the words. But 'Salmo A Nessuno' is completely sung in Italian and my Italian is kinda rusty these days, so maybe you could tell something about these lyrics for all our non-Italian speakers?

“Salmo a nessuno” (“Salm to nobody”) is freely inspired by “Psalm of Celan". It deals with the emptiness left by Gods' departure and it sounds like an invocation full of desperation to a nothingness raised to divinity. It's all based on the similitude between benediction and malediction, hope and despair, holy and profane, standing for the confusion of meanings in this post-religious age.

One song is honored with two versions on your album: 'Sophia's Fall'. One 'normal' version and one –excellent - remix by Bruno Kramm of Das Ich. What's the story behind this?

Giuliano is a great fan of Das Ich, so, when we started to think to the possibility to make a remix, we have immediately thought that Bruno Kramm was the right person for us. He has been really enthusiast to the idea of collaboration and the result is one of the best remix that Bruno has ever done. I think that the new version of “Sophia's fall” can be received by a part of public that improbably may listen to our proposal in a different way.

I also saw that you don't play very often. Is that because of other obligations (studies, daily work, other music) or…aren't you as good on stage as on CD?

We play very often in north-Italy and now we're going to expand our live range. You make reference to the first period of the life of the band, when our set on stage was very difficult cause of the presence of more musicians and the collaboration with theatrical company “Noir”. Now we have a more direct live attitude and we can easily play in standard conditions. Be sure that on stage you can find an Ensoph's version absolutely convincing and brilliant, especially now that we have enough experience to confront with more famous realities.

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Next month your country-mates Ephel Duath will – finally! – come to Holland for a show. I'm looking very forward to this. But what about Ensoph? What are the possibilities of international gigs and touring and if so: what can we expect from an Ensoph-show? When I see the kinda freaked out, fucked up looks of your singer Nicholas and the others as well, I don't expect six dudes sweating on stage like an ordinary rock'n'roll machine, but more…well, more what?

In April we'll start the Gothic Easter Tour with Novembre, Asterius and Handful of Hate. We're preparing ourselves for some international gigs: Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland. Sorry, nothing at the horizon for Holland. Actually on stage we don't have special scenographic supports, even because we often play before more famous act and we can't use the stage as we want, but in our show you can find the same atmosphere you breathe in the album powered by energy, enthusiasm and attitude.

Speaking about obligations: what/how is life behind Ensoph? Who are those men when they're not training the listeners' ears and brains?

Talking about the life of each one would take too much place and time. Someone works, someone studies: the common life of everyone! We try to dedicate as much time as possible to the band, but no one lives of music, except Leonardo, who has his own recording studio. I think that nothing I could say about this argument could be so much interesting.

And Ensoph itself? I understand that it means in the esoteric philosophy-literature something like 'Unknowable', defined by Herbert Spencer. It's the Only True Reality, but an abstraction as well, because all others will/must die. So Ensoph is in fact an immortal illusion? Can you tell me something about the ideas behind the choice of this name?

Ensoph is the transliteration used by Oswald Wirth to indicate the first letter of the Jewish's alphabet, that, in Qaballah mysticism, stands for the absolute void that represents the real essence of divinity before creation and time. It stands also for a reality that couldn't be known because out of every logical structure. We chose this name because the thread of all our research could be described as various attempts to approach Nothingness.

Oh, I promised to be more entertaining, light and more positive. Well, did you even been to Holland and what do you think/know of our country?

No one of us has ever been in Holland, but we heard great things about your country.

And what are the last three albums you've bought and that you would completely recommend to anyone, insane or a little bit sane?

The last three albums I've bought are: Bocksholm – “Excursions by the bank of the Black River”; Turbund Sturmwerk – “Turbund Sturmwerk”; Arditi – “Marching on to Victory”. As you can see, I am a fanatic of post- industrial martial sounds. If you want to hear to something really interesting and out of all standards in this field, I recommend to you a Russian band called Linija Mass.

The last provocative, annoying, amusing or important words are for you:

Prepare yourselves for the re-birth of extreme music: we'll do our best to be on the first line!

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