Mourning Beloveth - Interview
Mourning Beloveth has burst onto the international metal scene with their consecrated brand of doom metal, which has clearly been in overwhelming demand by the hordes of doom fans the world over, and we know areas of the media are certainly partial to a bit of doom. Metal whore Adrian – bass guitarist of Mourning Beloveth and manager of Irish label Sentinel Records - was kind enough to take some time away from plying his lovely wares on the corner to answer my questions about their new record "The Sullen Sulcus," as well as all good things Irish.
"The Sullen Sulcus" is your latest album, and a feisty trip into the dank and dark world of doom metal. Firstly, thanks for answering these questions for me Adrian. I best get the basic questions out of the way first. How did Mourning Beloveth come about?
Mourning Beloveth was born from the ashes of death metallers Traumatized. Our drummer Timmy is the sole surviving member of that group. It became Mourning Beloveth shortly after Traumatized died. Very soon after that, Frank, Darren, and lastly Brian were recruited. I joined shortly after I helped the band record their 1st demo and it’s been the same lineup since 1996. The style of music we play wasn’t intentional, it was just a style that was comfortable with all of us to play.
Over the years we’ve supported Cathedral, played 2 gigs with Cradle of Filth, headlined many festivals in Ireland, played in the UK and we have just done a European tour in February.
Ireland is not renowned for its overwhelming metal scene, internationally. Yet a couple of bands, yourselves, Primordial being another, have managed to tear open the window into the international metal world. Is there a decent metal scene in Ireland that foreigners don’t hear about?
There is for sure. I’ve been asked this a number of times and it seems to me that a lot of people around the world know of something happening within the Irish scene but it’s just not reachable for some reason. There are plenty of good bands in Ireland and that’s not being biased. Of course there is the shit but across the board there is a plethora of genres and scenes within scenes that are interesting to know about. My label Sentinel released a double CD comp called "In Unison" and there are 19 Irish bands on it with new and unreleased tracks. You can hear the different styles all the way through. We’ve black, death, grind, thrash, speed and doom and all the mixtures that come with that too. If we could have afforded it we would have put out a triple CD set of Irish bands at the time. The scene is thriving at the moment and you only have to visit www.metalireland.com and check out the Irish links to see what I am on about.
Being part of such a minor metal scene (like Australia), do you think it’s a case of just getting a lucky break and riding on for as long as you can? I think there is a definitive skepticism from metal labels about bands from lesser-known extreme music countries. I mean, countries like Sweden and Germany are pretty secure in terms of the huge plethora of metal talent there. What do you think?
That can be true but of course that’s where economics come in and that is me speaking from a label point of view. Unfortunately the metal scene isn’t strong enough to compete with the mainstream so it has to follow a definite money trail, for lack of a better phrase. A label could decide to sign a band from a known metal country before somewhere like Ireland, and Australia like you mention. Same as what happened with the Norwegian scene! I’d say some bands were just made at that time so they would get a deal. Thankfully all the crap has been filtered out by now but it just goes to show what hype and money can do to a scene.
"The Sullen Sulcus" tops out at 60+ minutes of music, yet only 6 tracks. Was this a focus of the "The Sullen Sulcus" - to record epic, and sprawling tracks that stretch from one end of the doom spectrum to the other? Before you started recording the record was it an objective to have tracks that really pushed the minute count, or just a case of how things turned out?
It was more of the latter really. It has never been an intentional effort of Mourning Beloveth to make long songs for the sake of it. It is the grasp of doom that we have that needs the extra length to help get our ideas across and make the songs have the correct amount of atmosphere per length. Some songs are 7 minutes long, yes, still long songs for some people, but we will repeat a riff or a section until it feels right. We’ve proven in reviews that we don’t over do it. That kind of comment comes from the few people who understand the music and what we are trying to do. People who don’t get it moan at the length of the tracks and it’s their loss really.
The artwork is great for "The Sullen Sulcus." Reminds me of the kind of freaky stuff that was happening with Dimmu Borgir’s "Spiritual Black Dimensions," with the vibrant usage of crimson reds, human features, and a whole host of nasty piercing through that fellow’s head. Inspiration for this depraved art?
The inspiration for this came from Darren’s own mind. His lyrics are based on the mental torment that exists inside our own brains. The ‘Sulcus’ is the lowest part of ones own brain where all the other parts join up. So you get this image of being down there in the darkness where all your thoughts and fears are allayed and intensified. That’s where the brain imagery comes in. It’s the ‘Sullen’ part of the title that binds the imagery and insight behind it all together. True enough its not typical CD cover artwork for a doom band but when you combine the title with the imagery and then the lyrics you should get the message. I’ve just had a look at that Dimmu Borgir CD cover now and I see what you mean, but isn’t that a dead chicken or some lady’s nether region maybe?
Where "The Sullen Sulcus" has improved over "Dust" for me has been in its atmosphere. "Dust," I felt had a rather monotonous quality about it, whereas in comparison "The Sullen Sulcus" reeks of superb atmosphere. Each variation and movement in tempo progresses in perfect rhythm with the atmosphere. I think this is most prudently shown on the opening track, ‘The Words That Crawled’ (which also happens to be my favorite song on the album).
Yeah, it does have an overall better atmosphere and better continuity. The opening track is what we use live as a first song also and it really sets the mood for the rest of the gig. I don’t think "Dust" was really monotonous but I know what you mean. It was a bit more extreme on the straight up doom side of things and "The Sullen Sulcus" has a lot more of the real Mourning Beloveth sound, if you want to call it that. We worked very hard on the new songs for "The Sullen Sulcus." It was an album where we had to write all the songs from scratch and we really only had a handful of riffs left over from "Dust" that we used. It was a real learning process and made us a tighter and stronger outfit.
How have reactions been thus far to "The Sullen Sulcus?" It’s an enormous album full of fantastic diversity, you must be stoked with some of the reactions so far.
Well as with the reviews for "Dust" I’d say only 1% of them have been negative. I think we’ve struck a chord with a lot of people on this CD, which has enabled the songs to be ingested into their minds and understood the way we want them to be. As I have said above, most people do get stimulated in a way that reaches inside them when that right note or chord hits you.
Lyrically "The Sullen Sulcus" isn’t too full of prancing ponies and playful puppies. Is there a concept to the record? From reading the lyrics to the six tracks, I get a loose sense of a metaphysical concept. I am on the right track?
Well Darren had been reading a lot of Sylvia Platt and Freud up to the recording so I expect that’s where he got his mind in order to help out with the lyrics. There was another guy, Carl something-or-other, I can’t remember, but I recall him talking about the book and the effect it had on him. The metaphysical end of things, come from the mind really where things can get a bit mixed up as you know and we all experience from time to time. We always try to tightly bind the artwork with the lyrics and the music to create a ‘concert’ if you like to call it. We also like to get peoples own reactions and personal insights to the lyrics and artwork instead of putting it on a blackboard and saying ‘this is what it’s all about’. Make up your own mind.
You guys have been doing some mad touring throughout Europe to support "The Sullen Sulcus." How has it gone thus far? Have the crowds been pretty receptive? And more importantly, have you enjoyed yourselves?
Yeah the tour in Europe was pretty crazy all right. We started in Dublin then on to Bradford, London, Paris, Madrid, Evora (Portugal), Murcia (Spain), Irun (Spain), Rouen (France), Rotterdam and Gent (Belgium). The 3 bands were in one 17-seat minibus and the gear in another van. We did it the hard way but it was worth every minute. We got to see some great places and meet cool people. The traveling was mental - sometimes no sleep between gigs -10/12 hour drives to the next gig. The crowds were great. The gig in Evora had 350 people and the rest of the crowds ranged from 80 up. We sold a lot of merchandise to help us in beer and food, which was nice. My Dying Bride turned up at the Bradford gig, Bill Steer was in Paris and Roberto from Moonspell was at the Evora gig so it was cool meeting them as you can imagine. We’ve just booked our tickets 2 days ago for the USA tour. We’re off to Denver for the 5th of August to start a 24-date, month long trek all across the USA with Morgion and The Prophecy,again along with Ordoruin as support. This came out of the fun we had on the Euro tour together and has been in the planning process since the last tour in February. It’s great for us as we will be the first metal band from Ireland to tour America so it’s a nice notch up for us. All our mates and other bands in Ireland are happy for us and it all means that the Irish scene will get a closer look, which is what it’s all about in the end.
I must compliment you on the new website. It fits in perfectly with "The Sullen Sulcus" in terms of color usage and theme. One of the more impressive band websites out there. On the subject of the Internet, how important to you consider the Internet to the success of Mourning Beloveth? Do you worry over the unsolicited trading of mp3s?
Thanks for the compliment. We spent a lot of time getting it together and making each page just right. We had a lot of old stuff from the old site to transfer across and unfortunately it wasn’t ready in time for the Euro tour but now it is all up to date. I think the color scheme is great also. It’s a very heavy color for a PC screen. The wallpapers that Paul did for us are amazing. He designed the artwork for the CD, too. We’ve another guy, Collie Meade, who builds the site and updates it for us but Paul does the imagery. I think the Internet has been the savior of the underground scene. It started to become popular around the mid 90’s for the metal scene to use it for promotion. It was really the next step and a hell of a lot quicker than posting letters. I remember Darren and myself promoting the 2 demos by mass mail outs with thousands upon thousands of fliers. I really think we did as much posting out with stuff as you could probably do by e-mail these days but it’s a lot easier now just pasting the addresses into your computer and sending them out in a couple of seconds. The letter method was a very personal way of doing things, but very time consuming. We’re spoiled now though with any magazine out there able to send newsletters, labels with up to date news etc, etc. Any band without a website these days will find it very hard to get attention. Unfortunately that’s the way it is but we’ve to move with the times and keep up with the competition which there is more of because of the advent of the Internet. As for the mp3 thing – there’s nothing you can really do. I think the real fans do end up buying the full release and mp3 files are a good way to introduce people to new stuff. Me saying that might sound strange as I also run label and have to suffer the sales slump that has hit the world’s record labels but that’s just the way. I am sure something will happen soon about it though. I read about a big American label the other day that has begun to track people who swap mp3’s so lets see how that pans out.
You also have a new DVD in the works. Is this baby out yet or what? What sort of good shit can we expect to see on it?
It’s not out yet but the next month should see its arrival we hope. I am not sure what gig it will show as we recorded a few of them on the Euro tour. It will be a mixture of 4 songs anyway from 1 gig with all the usual backstage and various fun and games to boot. There will be a separate Doomination DVD out later in the year with footage from all the bands and the support acts on the European tour, so look out for that also. I think that will be released between all the bands.
"Dust" was released on your own label, Sentinel. How did you set up the relationship you currently hold with Haavard at Aftermath Music?
Yeah that’s right. Sentinel released "Dust" again because there was still a demand for it and the 1st pressing that the band did was sold out. We (Sentinel) have repressed this again already and the demand is still there thankfully. The relationship with Haavard came about from the time we were sending out promos of "Dust" a couple of years ago. He kept in contact with us and the interest was getting stronger from his end of things until we finally signed last year. We sent him pre-production tapes as we did with a few other labels but he won out in the end and a bond was formed. We’ve just heard this week that "The Sullen Sulcus" has had its 3rd repress already since last November!
In addition to playing in Mourning Beloveth, you run the metal label, Sentinel. Do you ever get sick of devoting your life to metal? Or are you the sort of person who can’t get enough? You need metal to survive...
I know. I’m a bit of a pig really. Sentinel was born from the chats I had with Brian who was still working at Misanthropy in the UK shortly before they finished up as a label. He was planning on coming home then and starting a label so we hooked up and released the "In Unison" comp. Then we got the 2nd CD of Irish Death/Grinders Abaddon Incarnate to release, which has sold really well. Then "Dust" of course. We are releasing a split 7" with Mourning Beloveth and Lunar Gate soon on ltd. picture vinyl. This will be the 1st of a series of 5-picture vinyl’s, the next being Primordial/Mael Morda. We are also releasing the vinyl of the new Antimatter album then Bastardsun,which is the new band of ex-Cradle of Filth man Stuart Anstis. He was the main songwriter for the "Vempire..." and "Dusk..." CDs. We are also working on a few other releases that should see the light of day this year. How’s that for a plug? Hah! I suppose it’s the time I allow for each thing that enables me to spend whatever time with each project. Hopefully Sentinel will be my money earner in a couple of years as our mail-order is really taking off now and we are gradually becoming the main distributor in Ireland for that stuff. I used to run Emerald Promotions too, but had to give it up so I could spend more time on Mourning Beloveth and Sentinel. Emerald has brought the likes of Immortal, Cannibal Corpse, My Dying Bride, Anathema, The Haunted, Morbid Angel and all the main bands that tour through Europe. This coming weekend it’s Paradise Lost and support on Friday, and The Gathering on Saturday. I’m a whore! I love it though. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 18 and been organizing gigs and helping out bands too, for a long time, but I enjoy it and hope to continue to do so for a long time yet.
What lies down the road for the second half of 2003 for you blokes? Penning down new records? Touring Africa?
Well the USA tour for a start and then hibernation until next summer when we will record our 3rd CD. Taking a year off playing gigs to enable the writing of "The Sullen Sulcus" and it paid off so we’ve started to write new stuff already to get back into the writing frame of mind and the new stuff is sounding a little more weird than usual - we’ll see. We have been confirmed for the Doom Shall Rise in Germany next year along with the Southern Discomfort Fest in Norway where we might do a short Scandinavian tour also if possible. We won’t make it to Africa this year, hah. Wouldn’t mind making it to Australia, though. Abaddon Incarnate had a ball there earlier this year.
That’s all I have for you at this stage Adrian. Thanks for answering my questions. Feel free to promote yourselves...
Well thanks for the interview Jack. I hope those reading this enjoy it and will prompt the nonbelievers to buy our stuff or they will wither away on their own.
Please mention these websites to help promote Ireland’s Metal scene and ourselves. Doom on...
www.mourningbeloveth.com - Our homepage
www.aftermath-music.com - Our labels homepage
www.sentinelrecords.com - Sentinel Records homepage
www.metalireland.com - All you want to know about the Irish Metal Scene
www.metalworksmagazine.com - New Irish Pro-printed Metal Magazine
www.emeraldpromotions.8m.com - Irelands leading metal promoters
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