(Comrade Aleks returns to NCS today with a new interview, and this time his guest is Óscar Del Val of the resurgent Spanish band Dormanth.)
Born in 1993, this Spanish band has always balanced on a verge of death and death-doom metal, giving preference to fast, direct, and aggressive stuff. Dormanth split up in 1996, having only one demo, a split, and a full-length album in their discography, but one of the band’s founders, Óscar Del Val (guitars, vocals), decided to return the band back to life in 2015, and suddenly has succeeded in recording one EP and two full-length albums with a new lineup.
Base Record Production will release a new EP, Abyss, on May 27th, so I got in touch with Óscar to learn more about Dormanth’s past and present.
Óscar, Dormanth was started in 1993. What was your initial vision of the band? What kind of ideas did you want to fulfill through the band?
Like all the bands that were formed by boys of 17-18 years old, to play and be a big band like the ones you heard. You saw all of them in the magazines and their concert photos and you wanted to be like them.
The band recorded the demo Sadness in 1994, which is performed in a pretty old school death metal way. What were your initial influences back then?
Death and doom in general, but above all the sound that came from the north of Europe and also the melodies that came from England. American death metal is different and we identified more with the Nordic. Bands like Entombed, Dismember, Edge of Sanity, Amorphis, those sounds, but all the melodies in the line of Paradise Lost, for example, we liked too, and we wanted to mix them. The velocity and the melody.
The 1995 Valley Of Dreams album keeps the same vibe with some minor doom metal influences. How was the band’s sound formed on this album? What are your memories of this recording?
We listened to doom for its melodies but certainly the tempos on many occasions seemed very slow, and for that reason we looked for our own seal of identity. We are left with the beauty of the doom and the aggression of death.
For lovers of doom we are very fast, and for fans of death we are very slow, but it seems that it is a formula that interests people. In that recording we saw for the first time a computer … imagine.
Dormanth – So Dies Another Day
How did you get on the Shadows In The Night split with Pandemia and Infestation? Did this release help you to gain some recognition? How did you promote the band in its early years?
We had just released Valley of Dreams and American Line Productions in Mexico offered us the split. We immediately said yes. Everything was good for our promotion, at a time where everything was by letter or by comments with your friends. There was no internet, and appearance in magazines was often a place only for large groups. The fanzines did good work.
How often did you play gigs back then in ’90s? How was everything organized? Where and with what kind of bands did you play usually?
There was a time that you played every week. In any place. There were not many places, and they were always busy, so you got together with other bands to do several concerts in a row. There were no great festivals and people went to concerts. It was easy to do sold out shows. You plugged in your amplifier and played. There was no means, only energy.
What happened in 1996? Why did you stop activity by the band? And what finally led you to Dormanth’s resurrection in 2015?
What happened to many bands happened to us. We began to have differences, and after some changes we decided to stop. It did not seem right, but there was no other way but to accept it. I tried to reunite the boys again several times until I managed to convince them to do something in 2015. It was not really what I imagined but it was something, and after that I decided to lead the project.
Oscar, you recorded the Winter Comes album in 2016 together with drummer Victor Franquelo. These songs are performed in a straight death metal manner without any hints of doom. Why did you decide to switch on this more direct stuff?
Let’s say that in the LP of the return I wanted to give it a focus on the fastest part of Dormanth, closer to the Nordic style but always with melody. There are some slow part, but basically the speed was sought. I really do not think it’s a change of style because it keeps sounding like Dormanth. Two songs were made in 1993, although they were redone.
Dormanth – Like Ice
Oscar, you didn’t play metal for almost 20 years before the return of Dormanth. How did it feel to play extreme stuff again? And how did you interact with the new surroundings – labels, new venues in your place, new zines, etc.?
The truth is. that was hard. I had not stopped playing but I had moved away from this whole network. The way things are done now is different than 20 years ago. In some ways I liked it more before. Everything was more direct, if more difficult and expensive, but people gave more value to everything. The achievements were more transcending, and now they are more ephemeral.
You wrote all the lyrics for the album. Did you have any special message you put into these texts?
There is no special message. Only themes already used in the past were used … faith, the internal thoughts of people, the feelings … all in different situations. Every work of Dormanth is related in some way to the previous one, and this produces the union of lyrics and some of the themes composed in the first epoch.
How did people react to the band’s return?
Well, you can say that they reacted well. Both people and labels or promoters and media. You have to understand that we were not a super-famous band either, and there were not millions of people waiting for us, but we do have our public that wants our music and supports us.
The next Dormanth album, named IX Sins, shows your interest returning towards doom music. How did you write this stuff? Was this returning of doom a conscious decision?
As I say, it is not that it is something new in Dormanth, it simply depends on the work as to which is more focused on one or another facet. This time it made sense to return to making songs slower and more loaded with melody. Find an “old school” sound and focus on both the lyrics and the voices. Here, it all surrounds the number 9.
There are nine tracks on IX Sins — did you have a concept behind it?
Here the message is the nine songs as if they were representing 9 sins, not literally, but as a sample of things that the human being does not do well, or does not do with the correct address in their acts and thoughts.
The nine figures on the cover represent the guardians of those sins, what protects us from them but also what makes us commit them over and over again.
But there are seven original sins in the Christian tradition. What was new that you added to this list?
Hahaha…yes, many people are going to think about the seven deadly sins but there are also the 9 satanic sins. They are neither. Dormanth never talks about a particular religion in his lyrics, he talks about religion in general. For that reason many people were going to think about it, but in reality they are the sins, our sins, those of humanity
Did you perform live shows with Dormanth, as you didn’t have a full, constant lineup in this period? How far did you tour?
No, until 2018 there were no shows by Dormanth. We looked for a stable line-up to be able to play, and we started right out of IX Sins where we played in different places in Spain.
What happened next? I see that Dormanth is turning into a more active band – you have a full line-up, and now Base Record Production will be releasing your new EP Abyss! May I ask you to tell us more about the new release?
We got together to do a few shows, and we saw that the response was good from the fans, so we decided to give continuity by recording a new work and continuing with live shows. Abyss is the most melodic music that Dormanth has ever made. The melody was searched for at all times, without thinking about the rhythm, whether it was slow or fast.
It may be the right way to work. We are really satisfied with the result.
Dormanth – Abyss
These songs were recorded with a new lineup. How was the session organized? How much time did you spend in the studio? And was it a relaxed or stressful experience?
Stressful hahaha. We live in different cities so all the work is remote. It is a lot of work to prepare all the recordings separately and then send it for mixing and mastering. I would like to say that I enjoy the recordings, but it is not like that. I particularly enjoy the result. Probably others are a little more relaxed, but for the type of work that I have to do, I can not really enjoy it during the process.
Oscar, I guess that’s all for today. Did we forget anything? How would you like to finish our interview?
There are always things to talk about, it’s the beauty of life. Enjoy life, and if Dormanth helped to bring a moment of happiness, no matter how small or big … thank you!!!!