“Underlight” is the second full-lenght of Akral Necrosis, a band founded ten years ago somewhere in Bucharest, an unusual project for black metal scene. We were used to such appearances coming from the West country. Not for a very long time “Underlight” is on CD and it’s so nicely placed almost everywhere for us to listen. That’s a sign that the world really need to know and hear about it. It’s nicely placed for me too, because it feels like it was worked so hard on it and it gives you the feeling that things are about to change in metal music. I think it just suits perfectly with the Northern areas of Europe. Such an impeccable production. When you think about technology you will consider there is no need to mention about the production. Well, metal, if not stolen and sold out, it’s not really the type of producing money, but rather produce quality. There are many bands with exceptional concept albums, but because of the poor production they will end up.
Baldo, Cultartes: “Underlight” draws attention particularly through the high quality production which gives you the feeling that it was meant to be this way. How was after all the production work and who was responsible for that?
Octav, Akral Necrosis: We knew from the beginning that in making this album, there would be no place for any sort of compromises. That includes the production value, so there was only one choice at that point – to work/record/mix/master with Marius Costache / Studio148. We were very familiar with his work over the years, so we got in contact with him and made the plans. The result is a very good one, as you can hear.
How did the collaboration with Loud Rage Music have started and what benefits you guys had in this direction?
I knew Adrian from a long time ago. We lost contact for some years and then he made his label and we started to talk again. Working with him made things easier for us when it comes to distribution and reaching far places. Also, this also made the quality of our CDs grow a lot, as they are made in the best conditions, far away from here. I really value the fact that we don’t need to send demos to him or have huge talks before we settle on a new release. He trusts our music and we trust him.
Is there a story behind this concept album?
Accidentally, “Underlight” became itself a concept album, but not in the manner of our previous release “Pandemic Dominion”. It’s not quite an easy thing to do a concept album, so after we were done with our first album, I decided I wasn’t gonna write a new concept, just listen to the songs as they come and leave them to inspire different subjects. Without noticing until the very end, “Underlight” was an album speaking about death from various perspectives. Even if it’s a tribute towards the work of a forgotten writer (“King in Yellow”) or about the gods mocking human kind and all life (“Saturnian Gallows”), each song is about death. And since I let the music dictate the topic of the lyrics… As a final thing, Costin Chioreanu from Twilight13Media just got it after a few listens and created that beast of an artwork that reflects what you can find inside. No better artwork could have been done for “Underlight”. Take the time to try to understand all the hidden meanings present there. I hope some people will fully understand it.
You can taste a variety of aggressive black metal on “Underlight”, yet classic but refined in places. You’ll feel some atmospheric influences or I God knows what other popular genres, but without reducing the aggressiveness of this album. Not fucking around, just to make myself clear. “Sin Gauntlet”, for instance, it literally kills you. Such a cruel story is told in a wise, elegant way that can make you shiver. It’s strange, isn’t it? You’ll find many of these contradictions that can surprise you for good. On the same level is “Saturnian Gallows”. Overall there is a variety of growing seriousness; they now handle the music comparing to their most popular song “Slay the Whore”. Maybe the changes the band had suffered led to a most natural settlement of things.
You can feel more influences besides this extreme metal. Was that a thought with which you’ve started from the first place or the changes the band had suffered influenced you in a way or another?
Actually, I’d say it’s none of the above. All parts on the album, even those that come outside the boundaries of extreme metal are induced by our mood. We never start to write new songs with agendas in our heads. If something sounds good and it fits the song we are working on, then it stays. I think it’s a mistake to barricade yourself as a musician in the thought patterns of what people expect a black metal song should sound like. We didn’t receive any so called complaints about anything related to “Underlight”. However, I remember in the past some people kept asking why do we have long guitar solos. We didn’t care back then, we don’t care now.
Since we’re talking about influences and changes, you have some inflections on your voice that make me think about the specific growl of Abbath or Maniac. Is this only my opinion or you’ve actually tried to bring something different?
I always try to become better when it comes to my screams, so an evolution occurs from time to time. My main target it to become better at expressing myself with this technique that may seem limited to the vast majority of people. It may seem odd, but one thing I don’t want to do is use the classic black metal scream, I have my own touch towards it. Since we are living in 2016, there are thousands of bands who copy the classic stuff. In their view, they are performing the so called true black metal, but most forget that the essence of this genre is the individual. So how can you respect that, if you don’t do your own craft? And I’m not speaking about reinventing black metal, but put you own goddamn finger on it and make it your own. On the better side of things, there are many fantastic black metal vocalists out there. I don’t know if they are an inspiration directly, but they are artists I truly respect. To give some examples – Attila Csihar, Aldrahn and so on.
“Underlight” has the gift to remain in your memory, from many points of view. There’s no way to easily pass over the barbaric bass (the best possible meaning); it will enter through your innards. There is a certain depth. Let’s not think about any stupid sentimentality. Is also the voice that gained at least some influential interesting inflections that cuts the ordinary linearity so far. I really enjoy, as a final idea, the way this “darkness” was expressed in a musical matter seems so cold, not being influenced by keyboards and any other tools meant to soften you.
How do metal looks after ten years of Akral Necrosis?
If this is a question if we can say that we influenced the metal genre in any way, then I can’t answer because I never think of stuff like this. I don’t care much about what happens or who thinks what about us, or our music. I do this mainly for myself, I am very selfish regarding our music. I never feel the need to be validated by opinions, people and so on. We play what we enjoy and that’s it. We are glad if some people resonate with what we do.
But I can share how I saw it back then and how I see it know. When I was a kid starting his first band, I was living under a spell which made me believe this is something else, a music that’s also a manifest. Sadly, I came to realise that all that shit I hated about the mainstream/popular music is also present for metal. The industry monster came from <<beyond>> as soon as it saw that money could be made from metal. These two worlds I saw as separate begun to behave in the same manner. So you have your kind of pop metal bands and even extreme metal pop bands that are spammed and pushed by this monster. But the magic never comes from there, it always comes from down below, from the bowels of the underground. That’s something they will never be able to kill. So, I can still allow myself to dream sometimes.
We know there is promotion tour around the country, will you promote the album abroad? Basically, how hard is to sustain such a tour?
Touring is never easy and not anybody can take it. This applies to touring our country or other places. We started to promote the album with some local shows and one at a festival in Sofia, BG. We have plans to continue the tour in 2017, but that depends on many factors.
Going into details, after the whole Colectiv tragedy last year, things are even harder for underground artists. Not going into details, the way we handle situations like this in Romania is taking steps to make sure nobody does shows, so nobody dies from fires anymore. Fewer clubs to play in, the same conditions as before when it comes to most of the venues, other aspects are even more difficult. But it is what it is and we march on.
Today’s trends are about how the album is packed, thing I find very professional, but how do you think this influences the success of the album?
Hard to say. I collect music and when I go on the hunt (I call it that because I’m into albums that are pretty hard to find in a store in Romania) I never care for the packaging of the CD. I have great albums that look like crap, but they are original and the music is fantastic. I think from the perspective of the artist, the look of a new material is important also when it comes to business mediums, like looking for promoters, booking agencies and so on. Besides, you don’t want to sell crap to your fans. But overdoing it? I think that it’s worth it only if you make the whole thing with a really good artist. I also have some insane ideas about what I want to do in the future for another Akral Necrosis album, but we’ll have to see if it can be done.
Is there any song you feel more attached for one reason or another?
That goes without saying. “Underlight” means a lot to me, there are not too many things that I would change about it and that’s something big as I am almost never satisfied with what we do, in the sense that I always believe there are ways to improve anything. Let’s say that song would be the one that gives the name of new album. The lyrics are a puzzle, you can understand them at a certain number of levels, but the real meaning is way hidden and it’s very personal.
If “Underlight” would be a culinary recipe, what after taste do you think it has?
This is a very sick and dark album. I would compare it to the lyrical direction of Sin Gauntlet, a song about a religious fanatic trying to achieve salvation by stealing the preserved body of a saint. He fails to heal his sins so he ends up eating her corpse. You wouldn’t want to have a taste of “Underlight”.