A Interview With Andreas From Spirit Descent – A New Doom Rising   Leave a comment

Doom Metal bands are still few and far between in Northern Germany – enter SPIRIT DESCENT. After the demise of Cold Embrace, where he had sung and played bass, Andreas Libera wanted to form a new group in mid 2008 under that name with the intent of establishing a more epic and melodic brand of music than his former outfit.

Having toyed with his idea for around two months, Andreas joined forces with former Deceptive Silence singer Jan Eichelbaum to flesh out new songs that, once unleashed online in 2009 under the title “A New Doom Is Rising”, enjoyed great response among the dedicated. Guido Preußner, drummer in Freakadella and The Name, took interest in the duo and hooked up with them in order to throw his progressive groove into the mix.

Come summer 2009, Spirit Descent were ready to record their debut “Doominion” in Rosenquarz Tonstudio Lübeck, renowned for forging the sonic excellence of heavyweights like The Lamp Of Thoth, Warning, The River, Solstice, Extorian, Spancer and Isen Torr. Joachim Folta from Subcutane, who topped the album with his guitar solos, sadly passed on the offer of full time membership in favor of his professional job.

Now “Doominion”: a classic doom metal platter seamlessly fitting into the traditional mould of Solitude Aeternus or Candlemass! Lush clear vocals, oppressive heaviness and nifty drumming – all swathed in a powerful yet transparent production – display a fresh approach to the genre. Still, Spirit Descent are not about reinventing the wheel of doom; after all, you need not fix what is not broken, do you?

A few months later, no other than The Lamp Of Thoth’s own Randy Reaper joined the band on guitars. While they were promoting the album on their own in a strictly limited edition, the group were looking for both a record label and the missing piece to their line up, a bass player.

Critics were raving over “Doominion” (enthusiastic reviews at Hellride Music, 10/10 points in Doom Metal Front Zine and at Doomantia, 8.5/10 in Rock Hard Germany), so it was only a matter of time until Spirit Descent could sign a record deal with the up and coming label Eyes Like Snow, known among connoisseurs for releasing metallic goodness throughout.

Under their aegis, “Doominion” will finally hit the shelves worldwide on September 17th, low frequencies meanwhile being handled by Andreas Schiffmann, who will surely add to the band’s sound with both fretted and fretless bass playing.

The stage is set for Spirit Descent … and they are eager to take it. (Myspace)

Q: Salute Andreas! Thanks for your time; I’m very grateful for this interview with you, for you know that it would be inexcusable neglect to overlook such a great doom-act as Spirit Descent. How are you, Andreas? What do the band does now?
A: Well, at first, thank you for your time and your questions, I really appreciate that !
Right at the moment, I have a lot of work to do with my company, but also the band takes a certain amount of time. We are working on new songs, preparing a new release, it will be a split with our label mates Wheel containing 3 new tracks, that will be recorded at the end of the year, I think……Due to the circumstance, that our lineup is complete (we found a bass player, his name is Andreas Schiffmann), we are about to plan some rehearsals and it is mostly important for us to take “Doominion” on to the stages, you know ? Andreas lives in Southern Germany and Randy Reaper in England, so we have to see, when we will be able to rehearse with all members.

Q: Man, what do you mean with such sonorous band’s name? I’m asking because trying to find some info about the band I picked up few pictures with the print of Gustavo Dore among others as “Descending of (Holy) Spirit” is one of key subjects of New Testament story. It was when the Holy Spirit descended upon disciples after Christ’s execution. Though I am not sure that you were thinking about it choosing a name to your band…. But why not?
A: This is really a good question, to be honest, the band name was chosen due to personal reasons….in a way a kind of “holy spirit” descended upon me in 2008. I have been very ill for a while, had a complete breakdown, could not move the complete right half of my body, but I had a strong will to recover, to be able to play my instruments again. This will could be compared to a kind of descending spirit, because I got well within a very short time again, this was not expected by anyone, but it happened that way. A short time after my recovery I started writing new songs, so this was the birth of Spirit Descent. I am not very religious in a “christian” way, I am more into northern mythology and pagan thoughts, you know ?

Q: Hail Odin, of course I know about northern tradition! And the way how Odin got his illumination is similar to the way of Christ, man, there’s much more lays beneath these tales. You played at least in four different bands besides Spirit Descent, what is your current “main” band? Is it difficult to share and channel your energy in diverse ways?
A: This question is almost obsolete, because I have cancelled all other bands and musical involvements during the last 2 years….Spirit Descent is my one and only main-band, I may appear as session-artist in other bands as well, but I don’t have to channel my creative energy anymore, though, that was not a problem in the past. In a way I am still involved with my former band Cold Embrace as a kind of “musical adviser”, but as I said, this is not a problem of creativity.

Q: By the way, other gentlemen of Spirit Descent played in different bands too, it’s not an original question but what did drive you all to play traditional doom metal as all of you were busy with other projects?
A:  Well, meanwhile all of us a not involved in other bands anymore apart from Randy Reaper. Jan’s former band Deceptive Silence already split up when Spirit Descent was formed, Guido left both of his other bands due to personal issues and Andreas is not involved in any other musical projects as well. Traditional epic doom metal is exactly what we always wanted to play, especially Jan and me, it was our vision, so we realized it. Guido may have a different background, but as soon as he joined our band he has become more and more interested in playing slower songs;) He is a very talented musicians with a much wider background than all of us, less conservative and it maybe an advantage he lacks this almost narrow-minded “true doom attitude”, I have (yes, I confess, hahaha….;)).Meanwhile Jan, Guido and me are the core of Spirit Descent.

Q: Don’t you think that there is a time now of the new dawn of traditional doom? If it’s sun ever set indeed… There are a lot of really good and original bands in last few years, for example The Lamp of Thoth where your mate Randolph T. Reaper plays. Ha! And you have a song named “New Dawn” at least!
A: In a way, there seems to be a kind of doom-revival right now, but if you take a closer look at the “new” uprising bands, most of their members had been playing in other doom metal-bands before, so they may just continue, where they stopped with their former bands. The Lamp Of Thoth is a really good example of traditional doom, indeed ! We had been producing their albums so far at our studio (Rosenquarz Studio, Lübeck, Germany), this explains, why there is such a good contact. The song “A New Dawn” is very personal, dedicated to my loved one, she gave me some new views on to several matters of life and something changed in a very positive way, but in a way, you could easily find a connection between this experience and the dawning of the new generation of doom metal…( Myspace )

Q: Andreas, you’re also responsible for vocal lines in Spirit Descent, do you have lead or back vocal parties as it is in the “Alternating Reality” song?
A: Most of the vocal-lines are done by Jan, he is our lead-singer, so it is his job !;) There are some exceptions (btw, “Alternating Reality” is done by Jan, completely…in the meantime I removed this song from our Myspace-account, an official, rerecorded version will appear on the split I mentioned in the beginning…). “The Path Of Doom” (partially, mainly the verses) and “A New Dawn” feature my vocal-work…I wrote the lyrics, I had already done the vocals for these songs on our “A New Doom Is Rising”-demo. We’ll see, how we will share our vocal-work on future releases and if we will use second or third voices when playing live .Generally spoken, I prefer live appearances to be rougher and a little more stripped down, so I think, there will be no extra voices….we will just concentrate on invoking the spirit of doom, when we will be entering the stages;)

Q: Don’t you have your nose in the air after such great reviews of your first release “Doominion” in leading metal web-zines? Of course such great results were got for your fair and laborious work but you have a chance to become doom-stars 🙂 If such a term could exist…
A: I don’t like the thought of becoming a “doom-star”, because doom and stardom are completely opposite. According to the reviews, of course I am a little bit proud, when I read 10 out of 10 reviews, but I don’t have my nose in the air….by the way, meanwhile there are some more reviews an not all of them were good, in fact, there are some 5-6/10 in between, mostly written by younger non-doomsters without any relation to doom at all….due to that Doominion is distributed almost everywhere and the promotional work here in Germany is done by a professional company, every single magazine or webzine is provided with copies of our release. Sometimes it scares me a little bit, because I rather would keep Spirit Descent more underground, but this is also mentioned in most of the reviews…doom-fans will love it, all others  will be bored….To be honest, I don’t care for the younger metalcore-kid, he should buy the newest super-trendy, drum-triggered, vocal-processed bullshit release in his genre and stay away from Spirit Descent.

Q: For what do you like about “Doominion” as looking at this CD from a standpoint of simple listener – not as it’s author? What are necessary components of good, successful traditional doom songs?
A: It is quite difficult to look at own compositions from a listeners view, so I prefer being the author in that case…;-)….I think, the creation of good doom needs a certain attitude, either you are into doom or you are not, it seems to be a matter of desire from the moment of birth, it is not a matter of mind, but a matter of emotions, you know? A band like Warning is a very good example, they created masterpieces that simply can’t be repeated anymore.

Q: What is more difficult for you as a music writer? Do you look over at other bands trying not to repeat their ideas? What was your best result as a composer?
A: Usually I don’t listen to other doom-bands when I am writing new songs, if there should be some parts, that could be a repitition of something that already exists, well….that’s life, you know ? In a way doom metal is a limited genre, I bet, you won’t find any absolute new riffs or melodies, it is a matter of arrangement. To be honest, some reviewers called us “copycat” according to Candlemass, but I don’t think, “Doominion” sounds like Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus or whatever…..just because the music is in the same vein, it doesn’t mean, we are trying to copy their style, that is pure nonsense ! There are some new songs coming up apart from those, that will appear on the split-release and I think, they are a little different from the songs on “Doominion”, I think, they have a wider range without leaving the traditional path, next time, I won’t be doing all of the songwriting-work by myself, before we start recording new songs, every band-member will be a part of the process.

Q: How did you compose “The Path of Doom” song? Truly to say I didn’t pay attention to it when I saw it for the first time in your track-list in MySpace because most of doom-bands have in their stock song with the word “doom” in it’s name, but it’s masterpiece indeed!
A: Thank you very much ! “The Path Of Doom” was indeed the first song ever under the banner of Spirit Descent…the message is absolutely clear: we follow the path of doom and won’t leave it!
This song may be the bridge between Cold Embrace and Spirit Descent, warrior-lyrics, a kind of “Never give up, fight `till death, never surrender”-spirit within the lyrics (close to the lyrics I wrote for Cold Embrace) in combination with a very traditional and epic approach to doom. I think Cold Embrace sometimes was a little bit too open-minded when talking about influences, I wanted Spirit Descent to be more clear when talking about intentions…no keyboards, no violins, but riffs and melodies based on guitars, strictly traditional and METAL. That does not mean, I dislike, what I did with Cold Embrace, I still love the “Age Of Doom”-album and the guitar-sound on our first release “Ode To Sorrow”, these albums are still a part of my personal history ! I always preferred the traditional, epic doom metal-stuff instead of heading towards droning, fuzzy stoner-rock or cookie-monster doom-death, you know ?….And we had a lot of epic stuff in Cold Embrace ! I prefer doom being epic, dreamy, melancholic, melodic but still METAL instead of just putting my faith on 40 BPM, low A chord sustaining for some minutes and doing “bbbbbuuuuuuaaaaaaarghhhhh”, I did that when I was much younger so I think, no one should criticize me for having evolved !

Q: Andreas, it’s said that the vinyl-edition of “Doominion” will be released in early 2011 and will feature an extra bonus-track and redesigned artwork. First of all, what is this bonus-track? And why did you decide to release this album as an vinyl, don’t you think that it’s some kind of fetishism?
A: To roll this question up from behind. Of course, there is a kind of fetishism when talking about vinyl, it reminds me of lucky days in the late 80’s, early 90’s when I did not have a cd-player, it is a ritual to cleanse a LP and listen to the slight, warm crackle…..much more personal than this small piece of plastic filled with one’s and zero’s…The decision was made by our label Eyes Like Snow and was one of the main reasons, why we signed there, I am almost sure, that most of the listeners will prefer buying the LP instead of the CD. Meanwhile I am not so sure anymore, if the cover will be completely redesigned, maybe just some adjustments, the artwork is good, I still like it, so why change it completely? By the way, the LP-release will feature 2 separate bonus-tracks on an extra 7″. The first one will be the hidden track on the CD release (“Veracity”), the second one another straight heavy-metal-song called “Friend To Foe”, so this bonus-7″ will be for the headbanging fraction:-)

Q: Who was the author of the idea to compose the song “The Tragedy of Captain Scott”, it’s a grandiose track with really dark story behind it. I think it was a great idea to write the song about the person who did really exist. I remember your colleagues from the Ahab band, I think that musicians must do songs about such things, just to remind us about heroes of our time or of the past, about dangers of our time.
A: I fully agree, I have been studying history, scandinavian language and archeology for a while so this may show, how much I care about historical events and heroes of the past: They mean a lot to me ! If you don’t know your roots, your history, you will not be able to create your future ! The lyrics were Jan’s idea, he is as much into history as I am and he loves dramatic tales of struggle and heroism, Robert Falcon Scott was a true hero, who died for his belief and this song is a dedication. By the way, this is not our first “history lesson in dark doom”….”Of A Nation Forlorn” on the “Doominion”-album is about the downfall of the Maya-culture, ok, also inspired by the Mel Gibson-movie “Apocalypto”, but if something catches Jan’s interest and inspires him to write lyrics, he does a lot of researching-work by reading a lot of books just to refine his knowledge. Maybe someday we will compose a concept-album….who knows ?

Q: Don’t you think that music is not only for relaxing or aesthetic pleasure, it has to make people think sometimes too, don’t you?
A: Yes indeed…and I can only repeat, what I always say: READ THE LYRICS !!!! Or, at least, if not available, LISTEN to them ! An epic doom-metal-song MUST contain good lyrics, like a tale…So many listeners do not care for lyrics at all, but if you really want to understand the music you cannot avoid listening to the lyrics….Well, if you are in a stoner-rock-band “Yeah, baby, smoke it !” should be enough, but this does not move me at all….lyrics have to carry a certain message.

Q: Not all of our readers (and to my blame – me too) know about the gentlemen at the Eyes Like Snow label, it would be right if you’ll tell us about it. How do these men do they job?
A; Well, Torsten from Eyes Like Snow, which is a division of Northern Silence Productions does a really fantastic job, the deal is absolutely fair according to matter of sales and distribution ! Meanwhile his bands are distributed via Soulfood and the promotional work is done by Sure Shot Worx. I really can’t complain, but as I said in another question, it is a little more than pure underground, of course there are a lot of advantages, but from the view of an artist that has been playing in one of the doom metal scenes best kept secrets before, it sometimes may be frightening, how fast the rumors are spread.

Q: And talking about bands and labels we sometimes forget about those who spread the Word of Doom – about web-zines and web-radios. I know about the great German web-zine Doom Metal Front: their way of work is very effective with magazines and epic mp3-compilations which are free for download, they do their job very good with devotion and responsibility.
A: To be honest, I would call Sven, the head of DMF-Zine a good friend meanwhile, sometimes we talk for hours about doom and the world…..He was the first one to take notice of us by the way, just a few days after we uploaded our “A New Doom Is Rising”-Demo and he loved it. He is a devoted doomhead, we have a similar background when talking about, how we got into doom back in the old days. His work is brilliant, of course, he is trying to put DMF-Zine out as printed issue one day, that is only a matter of money and distribution, but I really think, he’ll make it and I’ll wish him and his crew best luck with their zine! Doom Metal Front Zine will become the leading underground-zine according to low-bpm-rated music in Germany, that’s for sure !

Q: Andreas, it is the last question for this time! Thank you comrade, and please send my best wishes to your colleagues of Spirit Descent, hope to hear news from you soon. It’s very exciting that such bands as your’s exist – thank you for that… Do you have something to add?
A: Thank you very much for your questions, it has been a pleasure to answer ! Of course, I’ll keep you updated according to news about the band. The only thing, I want to add, the so-called famous last words: FOLLOW THE PATH OF DOOM AND NEVER SURRENDER !!!
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov

Spirit Descent @ Myspace
Eyes Like Snow Records

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Posted September 24, 2010 by doommantia in Spirit Descent

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