(KevinP brings us another episode in his series of brief interviews, and this time he quizzes guitarist/vocalist Arno Cagna and drummer Dan Mullins of the UK’s Blasphemer, whose self-titled debut album was released in January of this year.)
So you’ve been around 25 years (since 1992) and you just finally got around to releasing your debut album. Amuse us with the explanation why it took that long?
Arno: The band actually formed in 1990. Our first demo was released at the end of 1992. From 1992 to 1995 we released several demos and received positive press in the fanzines of the day. That led on to us receiving 5/5 demo reviews in Terrorizer magazine in the UK in 1994 and then being voted best unsigned band by their readers. So you would have thought our first album would have been released in the 1990s. It wasn’t to be though, as around 1995 the project as Blasphemer was put hold. This was due to an unreleased demo that fell into the hands of a record label.
On the demo we had experimented with some female vocals to accompany some of the music. They really liked the ideas of those experimentations. They wanted us to develop those ideas and create a new project in order for them to be able sign us. We all being very young, quite naive, and eager to have a recording contract (in a day when people actually bought albums), we went with it. So Blasphemer as a band at that point kinda ended. The band we then went on to form (Dominion) released some albums which share two core members with Blasphemer (myself and Mass – guitars/vocals), but they are two completely different bands.
It was only in late 2012, early 2013, that Mass told me that he had just been messing around with the old Blasphemer songs on his home studio equipment to see how they sounded. He told me it sounded much better and the songs had held up well over time. He sent it to me to listen, and I really liked what I heard. It’s then that talks began about restarting the band.
My first rehearsal back with the band was Halloween 2014. From then to the album release has been just over 2 years. It’s all happened fairly quickly since the band’s rebirth. But it seems like a lifetime for our debut album to come out. I can promise though, album 2 you will not have wait years for. We are recording that in the second quarter of 2017.
Dan: I can only speak to the fact I was around when the band released their demos back in the day. I was on the local scene, knew the band, and played shows with the band as support with my first band (Epitaph). We also did our first demo with the Blasphemer drummer, Andy Miller, as well. I’ve stayed in touch with both Mass and Arno over the years and remained good friends with them. When they deceided to start up the ‘ole war machine again they asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Although my time was spent on various other bands, I felt it important to be a part of it.
Amazingly, the material does hold up over time. While it’s not modern it does not feel dated.
Dan: The album is actually almost a 50/50 spilt between the older songs and the new line-up songs.
“Wonderland of Cruelty”
“March of the War Priests”
“Cult of the Conquerors”
“Sarcastic ideology” is a song taken from the bands Dominion demo, yet reworked and condensed with the new line-up, so it’s kind of bridging the gap. Whilst the songs have an old school feel, I wanted to give the production that ’90s sound, yet still remain current in production terms. I always have something to aim for when recording and mixing, mastering an album.
Arno: As Dan has said, the album is kind of a 50% spilt between older songs from the 1990s and brand new songs (that were written once the band had been reformed). The older songs are played slightly different from their original incantations. Whilst the core of the older songs have remained, structures are all different and in some cases lyrics were completely rewritten and brand new sections were added. I think the way the older songs were approached almost made them like new songs because they were never played that way previously.
For me personally it was exciting to do that. To have an opportunity to look at something you wrote when you were 16 or 17 and think to yourself, that could have been better in this way or that. But to actually get to put that in to practice to me was pretty damn cool. The newer songs were written in the same vein so it all flows together quite well.
As Dan said, in terms of production and also the approach of recording: No triggers, no cheating in the studio. What I mean by that is no moving drums around, cut and paste guitars and bass, fixing things in post-production, etc. There was none of that. All of the takes were done like we would do back in the day — if something wasn’t played right from start to finish it was done again. We don’t want to sound like every other band out there, we want to sound like us. The overall effect is it sounds old school. ‘Cos we are old school because we were there. Haha.
So what should we expect out of the new material being recorded later this year ?
Dan: A continuation of the hatred towards humanity. Louder, prouder, with more venom and menace.
Arno: I echo that haha. The new album that we will record later this year is to consist of many brand new tracks that only we have heard. I am happy to report that material is full of hatred and aggression. We have a quite clear vision of our sound and style, so we get on with that and we will see where it takes us. I think if you like our debut album you will like the follow-up. There will be no radical style change or anything. We know who we are and what we do best and long may it continue.