Hey guys, I think it’s about time to use some of our space to talk about Apophys. We already totally liked your debut album, and now the new one blew us away equally. But first things first. Can you tell us a bit more how Apophys was formed?
Hi Pim, thank you for the compliments, we’re happy you are enjoying our second effort! In short: Apophys started off in 2012. We all had some experience with playing this kind of US-styled Death Metal and I guess you could say we missed doing it. So we started off writing some demos as a three piece, just to see if people where into it. We released a promo in 2013 online which met some overwhelming response. Racking up hundreds of free downloads and over 10k views in a short amount of time. That’s the point where we decided we should make a full-length.
What I personally find quite fascinating is when a band debuts with a full-length. Did you guys straight away worked on a full-length or did you record some demos too (that you didn’t share)?
Like I said in the above, it was actually the online promo that made us feel relevant enough to start making the first album. I agree with you that a new band throwing out an album out of nowhere can sometimes lead to pleasant surprises, but also often not the best start I think. We based our debut album on the reaction to the first promo tracks. We had no idea Metal Blade would sign us back then.
Your debut ‘Prime Incursion’ was released by Metal Blade in 2015. How did you get in touch with them? Did you have your album finished when you signed with them?
We did have it finished. Music to us is all about the craft, so we tend to do a lot ourselves. We all have some recording gear and facilities. It didn’t take long to start tracking. When it was done we got in touch just like anyone would, by sending over the material in a well-organized promo package. I know it sounds like a complete cliché but there’s not a lot more to it really.
Since your new album is released through Ultimate Massacre Records the cooperation with Metal Blade apparently was short-lived. Care to comment on that?
Yes, I can start with saying that this was in no way a bad situation on either side. When we signed with Metal Blade, everything went incredibly fast. Looking back, the first period of ‘Prime Incursion’ being out, I felt more like I was catching up then being in control of what happens. And that’s completely logical seeing as Metal Blade is huge. They have some of the best and biggest band in the genre so obviously there is a ton to do. For ‘Devoratis’ I wanted to work with a label with a more specialized focus on Death Metal and preferably in Europe since that’s still our main market for now. So we got in contact with UMP, owned by Mallika of Abnormality (also on Metal Blade) and Serge of Epicardiectomy. So still on very good terms with Metal Blade but the team we have now works a lot better for myself and the band.
Since the release of the debut you have had some line-up changes. Guitarist Koen left in 2016, being replaced by Dave. More recently you added bassist Sid who replaced Mickeal. Can you tell a bit more about these line-up changes and did they have any effect on the writing and recording of the new album?
The addition of Dave has sparked an entire new wave of creativity in the band. He wrote three songs for ‘Devoratis’ and he is already working on some new demos. Dave and Sanne as guitarists challenge each other since both have their strengths in different areas. Sid is much more of a, for lack of a better word, basic bass-player. This does not at all mean he is bad at what he does, better yet, he is really good at managing the low end, which I think works extremely well for our music.
Now we’re talking about composing the album I was wondering how you guys did that. Since ‘Devoratis’ is a concept album (and I assume the story came first); how do you decide what lyric needs to go with what song and how do you decide on the order of the song? Perhaps it’s the other way around where the music came first. Still it’s interesting to hear how this album came together.
This is the first time we wrote like this. Your assumption is somewhat correct. The story came first but an album should have a good arrangement of songs musically as well. Definitely just as important as the storyline making sense. So we built up the story as more music came in, even though the skeleton was already done. Sometimes there would be songs that would have a place in the story pretty quickly. On the other side lyrics were made to fit a specific song in a specific part of the story. So the chapters were written simultaneously with the songs being written.
Since this is a concept album and you came up by the story yourselves I’d like to know a bit more. Of course people can check out what it’s all about by buying your album, but perhaps you can shed a bit of light on this sci-fi story and is there any relation to the “real world” we’re living in?
The base of the story is about an alien race that is led by a ‘religious’ leader known as Consul. Together they aim to destroy empty galaxies to make sure the universe as a whole keeps expanding. There’s some kind of belief system behind this, similar to what Aztecs would have with the rotation of the sun. This race believes that they are responsible for the expansion of the universe. Then one day one of the operators of the devices used to destroy planets malfunctions and the blame gets put on an individual named Zohm. He is sentenced to the deserted planet he was supposed to blow up to make sure the device does what it’s supposed to. Making the sentence a death sentence in the end. On the planet Zohm finds out what happened and who caused the weapon to malfunction. The outcome of this all is well documented in the albums lyrics!
Did you have any sci-fi writers that influenced you for this story?
When I think of a science fiction writer that influenced me a lot I immediately think of Alan Moore. Best known for graphic novels such as ‘Watchmen’ and ‘V for Vendetta’. When I read ‘Watchmen’ for the first time I was completely amazed how well a character like Dr. Manhattan is thought through in such a short amount of time. Graphic novels are like short stories to me compared to books. So then there’s this character slowly feeling distance from time itself and with it his human side. Anyone who read it will know how good the chapter is with him on Mars. The movie did well enough, the book is better.
When it comes to the music it seems you guys managed to create some killer death metal that is both brutal and technical, yet accessible too. You already showed this on your debut too. To me that’s a blessing as I can’t stand death metal that only seems to be a vehicle to show off skills. So, I assume actual song-writing is very important to you guys? Can you tell a bit more what death metal is for Apophys and what you try to get across?
I think we can agree with you on your statement about what makes good death metal, good music even? Call me traditional but I need a song to have some structure to it. It doesn’t have to be classic arrangement and composition but it definitely needs: “A head and a tail”. as would say in the Netherlands. To me a certain part of memorable music is some repetition in the main theme of the song. Because if this theme is any good, I would probably like to hear it again somewhere later in the song. I can’t explain it any simpler then this I believe. Don’t get me wrong, I love something sounding chaotic if that makes most sense. But I don’t want it to actually be chaotic, it needs to serve a purpose.
So, can you tell some more about the recording. I think you recorded the drums with Yuma van Eekelen. And the mix/master was done in Italy by Stefano Morabio in his 16th Cellar Studio. Did you record the other parts at home? How long did it actually take to finish the album and did you do any fancy stuff like re-amping. In short, spill the beans on the recordings.
Right again! We recorded the drums with Yuma at Split Second Sound in Amsterdam in February 2017. Then recorded the guitars, bass and vocals ourselves. Mixing and mastering was done by Stefano in Rome. It was an absolute pleasure working with both Yuma and Stefano on this, I actually went to Rome to see him and work on the mix a little bit. Also by doing a lot ourselves we could really take the time to make it the best we could. So on each side there is only one basic guitar track. Dave on one side, Sanne on the other. Normally we would track at least 2 guitars per side which would make it 4 in total to get a wall. This is not uncommon and there’s bands that stack up a lot more than 4 tracks. But with all the riffing going on throughout the album we needed it to sound extra tight. Because otherwise it end up in a mess. So instead of layering endless lines of guitars. They each had one basic track to make perfect. I think that worked out extremely well and it makes the production breathe. All solos are in one take. Not all the first but there’s no editing in there. Zero drum processing, because it needs to feel real. You need to be able to picture actual people playing it for it to become brutal. A personal preference but a strong one as far as the production goes.
You guys already have done quite a few shows and I think once the album is out you probably will do more. Any news in that department? And while finishing off this interview feel free to add whatever you feel is important.
We are currently working with Doomstar Bookings for shows and now we have quite a few shows lined up for the release of ‘Devoratis’. Working with them has been really great, no bullshit, just good business. There are definitely more plans which we will keep you posted on!
Thanks for the interview, readers can check out all new music on Youtube and Bandcamp and hopefully a show near you!