Infliction - Interview
Formed in 95, it took some seven years for the Infliction to start circulating around the metal world. Thanks to Voice of Life Records, their debut album “The Faint Smell of Suicide” is finally upon us. Some say it is melodic death metal, others black metal with death influences, etc, etc…it could go on forever. What is a certainty, however, is that Infliction in my humble opinion have created the debut album of the year. I.R., mastermind behind the Italian monstrosity talks to us about the new album and the second album in the works.
Firstly, a huge congratulations must go to you and the rest of the Infliction bunch; the album is brilliant! I have been in awe of the record as soon as I received it some months ago. What impresses me the most is that it is only your debut album. For me “The Faint Smell of Suicide” is the debut of year thus far. You guys must also surely be excited that this is the only the start of Infliction and there are hopefully some big things on the horizon for Infliction!?
Well thanks a lot for you compliments! We're also very happy with our first album and we consider it as a pretty good beginning (we've spent more than a year in writing, recording and giving the sound the final touches), and now we're really proud of our work. It was worth the wait I guess.
How have the reactions been towards “The Faint Smell of Suicide”? Has the promotion by Frank and Voice of Life Records been as successful as you would have hoped for?
The reactions so far have been really unexpected! We knew that nowadays it seems to be pretty hard for newcomer bands to get positive feedback, but I'd say the hard work always pays. Concerning the promotion we couldn't have received better support, that's why I really enjoy working with VOL records. They're really pushing us on the spot.
You guys are an Italian band, right? How did the partnership between yourselves and Frank at VOL develop? Was it a case of him hearing some Infliction demo material or had you guys already put together the album ad decided to send a few copies to willing record labels to potentially snap you up?
It was our decision after years spent in the underground to get a serious record deal; we financed the recording of the album by ourselves hoping to get something relevant. After sending just a few copies to the labels that we considered potentially interesting we've got in touch with different A & R's, and we picked-up Frank's offer because of the good deal conditions and not to forget, he was really believed in us.
Vocally, is surely the biggest talking point[s] of “The Faint Smell of Suicide”. Certainly the thing I noticed most was the sheer variety of not only differing vocals (clean/harsh/whispered etc, etc), but also the variety in each rasp, bellow and clean verses. Are we going to see a repeat of such a vast and varying vocal performance in the future? I mean most bands are happy with maybe one, two at the outside, but you guys opt for five different vocalists for this particular debut album.
That's for sure! We always tried different solutions instead of one classic ‘screamy’ or clean kind of voice, we believe that with such variety in the songs structure the best would have been to match different styles of singing within the music. The result is something really unique and it fits perfectly with the other instruments.
Speaking of vocals again, “The Faint Smell of Suicide” features the talents of Aphazael (Ancient), Bjorn Gooses (Night in Gales) and both Goth Gorgon and Draakh Kimera from Mork Gryning. This must have been no mean feat latching onto these established names. Were you friends previously, or what?
Yes, I know those guys since years for different reasons:
The Ancient dudes are big friends of us, and our bass player joined them right after the recordings of "The Halls of Eternity" ...but I also help them occasionally as a tour merchandiser (like I did during the Proxima Tour).
The friendship between Night in Gales and Infliction started back in ‘98 when we toured together; they're really cool guys and they always supported us in any way possible! Bjorn offered himself for the creation of the conceptual artwork, and since he really enjoyed what we were doing, he accepted to add some vocals on the album.
With Mork Gryning the situation was pretty different; I was the only one in touch with the guys because I was really into their music... (those guys are such geniuses!), and after meeting up in Sweden they agreed on appearing as additional special guests.
The production for “The Faint Smell of Suicide” is pretty damn nifty, also. Are you planning to go back to Alpha/Omega for the next record or perhaps looking for a completely new face for the next Infliction album?
The studio where we recorded our first album is very well equipped; we also had some endorsement for the drum set, and the producer is one of the most talented in the Italian hardcore/metal scene (he's also the manger of Ancient by the way). Would you believe if I tell you that he worked as the sound engineer for S.O.D., also? We'll record the next album there as well, but we're totally open to experience some other place in the future.
When it comes to song-writing what sort of song is more difficult to write; a song that is very diverse and complex such as ‘Unmorning’ or a track like the instrumental ‘Vanishing Points’? Do you prefer to write an easier track with a quick outcome and finished quick, or writing something a bit more complicated, with a more impressive outcome?
The writing process always takes months; we're pretty pretentious with our material and not all the stuff we compose is picked up for good. I cannot really say what kind of songs I prefer to work on; we work our out ideas very spontaneously so that every song might take shape only after tons of experimentation. It's all about creativity.
The album cover to “The Faint Smell of Suicide” is depicting a series of hands with indications to the wrist and then above the wrist a series of razor blades: obviously suicide. Also the track titles like ‘The Blood That I Crave’ and ‘Pleasure Called Hate’ are pretty depressing suicidal sort of stuff. This is a concept album, then?
Well, it can be considered so because there are links between all the songs; conceptually the lyrics deal with suicide as a form of catharsis from human paranoia. The metaphorical use of the action of killing ourselves stands for a total denial of moral and social doctrines. But if you look at the cover carefully you will also notice the instruction for a successful suicide, instead of the usual way people try out.
This element underlines the fact that if you really want to do something you should have a total knowledge of what you're going through.
Off topic completely, what has been the most impressive album you have heard this year?
Hmm, personally speaking I'd say the new Dillinger Escape Plan EP with Mike Patton: absolutely a work of art!
“The Faint Smell of Suicide” certainly accomplished a helluva lot musically. You went in and out of most metal genres (barring perhaps power metal and stoner) with such ease and then back through a different metal genre seamlessly. Was this first album an experimentation to find out where your niche is musically or a trend that you are hoping to keep going for future Infliction albums (the metal diversity)?
First of all we play what we like, so it doesn't really matter if the songs seem to be filled up with several different influences... We just add what we feel. Lots of fans who ran into us after the shows expressed themselves with never-ending compliments because of our musical complexity and diversity, and that's what keep us alive! Not only we're happy with our style, but we also seem to be pretty much well judged! We couldn't get any better. We'll definitively continue from what we have created.
The opening sample on ‘intro’... ’Mummy, are you scared?’... ’Play with us Daddy, forever and ever and ever’ are pretty horror-thriller esque, but set the scene quite well for ‘A Credit To Dementia’. Was the idea to use a few samples always at the forefront of your mind during the writing process of “The Faint Smell of Suicide” or was it something more spontaneous during recording? Generally speaking I am not such a big fan of spoken samples, but used sparingly they can provide some good atmosphere.
I am a big horror movie fan, and personally think that nothing else other than movie soundtracks can bring you down. We wanted to have a cool frightening intro in order to create the right atmosphere, and we added some samples here and there to provide some interesting breaks, but everything has been accurately worked out. It was just an idea we had for this album but we don't yet know if we're gonna use it again.
Ok, now I.R. you do the singing and are the permanent vocalist for Infliction (unlike the other 4 fellows you introduced for your debut record), correct? You do all the vocals on the title track ‘The Faint Smell of Suicide’, ‘The Blood That I Crave’ and also ‘Hypochrist’ (which I want to ask about shortly), right? Do you use clean vocals at all in “The Faint Smell of Suicide” or is that left up to the other guys who do guest vocals?
Yes, I'm the only one who takes care of the vocals in the band (except for Dhilorz that backs me up on stage), I composed mostly all the vocal arrangements on the album and of course I wrote the lyrics. Bjorn and myself make some of the clean parts together, and somewhere I'm singing alone like on ‘As Coward Meets Coward’. I'm training my voice in order to reach a total variety of pitched voices, but since I consider Bjorn Gooses as one of the best metal singers ever, I decided to let him sing almost all the cleans. However during the live performances I'm the only singer, [laughs].
‘Hypochrist’ is printed with ‘no lyrics... may be offensive’. The cover of the album is depicting wrists with razorblades above them, surely this is offensive too? Could you give me a brief synopsis of what ‘Hypochrist’ is about?
We decided not to include the lyrics of that song because they show a really personal point of view on how we consider religions nowadays. Those lyrics may be misunderstood... even if a personal interpretation is always welcome while listening or reading the words, this time we decided to keep the message for ourselves. Enjoy the music... but forget those lyrics.
Your keyboarder, Jan uses some interesting samples throughout “The Faint Smell of Suicide”, much of it very non-metal and very ambient and atmospheric. Is he a metal fan much? Some of these samples seem very dance club and techno oriented... not that I have anything against techno... Very cool either way.
Jan is a really talented musician, but he's also deeply into different kinds of music (as everybody in the band is). As I mentioned before we're totally open-minded, so whatever we consider suitable for our compositions is included in our songs. He likes metal as much as classical music, pop, ebm or unique bands like Devil Doll or Arcturus. Keyboards play an important role in Infliction: we don't limit the use of that instrument to some background chords or effects, we try every possible solution.
“The Faint Smell of Suicide” was recorded in 2001. I expect you guys have worked on a fair bit of new material between now and then and are looking to put out a new album soon? Any leads or information that you could spill to us about a forthcoming release, guest musicians, song titles, etc, etc?
You're damn right! The new album is almost ready and it will be recorded in February; the working title is "Earshot" and here are some song titles: ‘Life Denied’, ‘The Forensick’, ‘Breakfast’, ‘Instinct To Mistrust’, ‘Skindive’, ‘True Evil Never Shows’, ‘Another Few Seconds OF Stare’, ‘Eardrilled’...
Musically speaking the new album will show a more aggressive approach, but the songs are still going to be really different one from another. I think that “Earshot” will surprise a lot of people...
It has been a pleasure having you answer these questions, I.R. Thanks very much, and I hope to talk to you some more in the near future about the inevitable progression of yourself and Infliction. Good luck with it all!
Thanks a lot for the interview! Check out our album and see you guys on tour across Europe!
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