(In this new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with members of the Swiss death/doom band Funeralopolis, whose latest album will be released on April 27th by Memento Mori.)
Despite being named after an Electric Wizard song back in 2009, Funeralopolis perform hard-as-hell death doom on a verge of slowed-down death. And if you’re tired of waiting for a new Asphyx or Autopsy release, you should give a chance to this band of punishers from Switzerland. Especially now, when after being on stage for about 10 years, the guys have recorded a killer full-length album, their first one, …Of Deceit And Utter Madness.
Let’s hope that Memento Mori Records will be able to release it on April 27th as it’s scheduled. Meanwhile we had a cool chat with Sodomator Of The Doomed Venus a.k.a Nico (bass), Chanting Ghoul of Ravenous Redemption a.k.a. Thuri (guitars, vocals), and Invoker of the Ancient Deathtune a.k.a. Pascal (guitars). Be ready for horrors of death and doom! Go!
Hi gents! How are you? How does the quarantine work in Lenzburg?
Nico: Hello! Quite good at the moment. In Switzerland the restrictions aren’t that hard, so I am still able to work, and we are allowed to go outside as much as we want. We just have to be less than five persons and we need to have two meters distance between each other.
The only thing that sucks is that all concerts are being cancelled. I wanted to visit Keep it True and Netherlands Deathfest by the end of the month, both of which are obviously cancelled. But I guess there is nothing I can do about it, so I just stay home as much as possible and blast some records. Right now it’s the new press of Vomiturition’s A Leftover, which came out recently on Hammerheart Records.
Long story short: Sucks, could be worse, and everybody is trying to make the best out of it.
Your full-length album …Of Deceit And Utter Madness should see the light of day on the 27th of April. Will the virus change Memento Mori’s schedule?
Nico: Well, Raul might be the better person to ask here, but as for now, the schedule hasn’t changed, but who knows… Hoping for the best of corpse!
Well, the band was born in 2008 and it existed for a year as Human Waste and then you changed the name to Funeralopolis. What made you manage such a turn? Your first demo …Of Death (2010), sounds kind of stoned but it differs from simple Electric Wizard worship, with a few sharper edges.
Nico: I wasn’t involved in Human Waste; I joined the band shortly after they changed the name to Funeralopolis. What I can say: Thuri and Pascal were already in the band when it was still named Human Waste. With the addition of vocalist (now ex-vocalist) Void, things started to get serious.
I guess it’s safe to say that we were pretty stoned while recording …Of Death. That’s maybe why it sounds how it sounds. We were all big fans of the Wizard back then (and still are, even if I don’t like their newer outputs that much…), but they were never a big influence, musically. We just liked the name and the idea behind it, that’s why we went for it.
Pascal: Human Waste was more like a placeholder name back then, we simply had no good ideas until Void came up with Funeralopolis, which we all immediately liked as a name. Not because we wanted to do stoner metal, but because the name evoked exactly the kind of mental images for us that we wanted to create with our music.
Funeralopolis – Crawling Caskets
The EP …Of Prevailing Chaos appeared only in 2013. What slowed you down back then? And what inspired you to change the band’s sound towards more extreme doom stuff?
Nico: Well, we were never the fastest band when it comes to writing songs, rehearsing, etc. And sometimes life goes in strange ways, since we are obviously not Def Leppard and have to work and stuff, which got in our way more than once. On the other hand, as an underground band, we owe nothing to nobody, so we have all the time we need. And as you might have guessed: our laziness is also a big point, haha.
I think …Of Death is way more extreme than …Of Prevailing Chaos, but I guess that’s in the listener’s ear… …Of Prevailing Chaos is very D-Beat infused, since at that time our new drummer Mike was a big fan of bands like Skitsystem. Only ‘Tale of a Mass’ is a doom song, and our tribute to Candlemass, a band we all love and worship.
You picked up killer artwork made by Mark Cooper for the album. How did you work with him? How do you connect this image with your songs?
Nico: This was more a coincidence and wasn’t planned at all. Raul (Memento Mori) suggested him, and we fell in love with this painting. It fits the concept (madness and its surroundings). It reminds me a bit of Seagrave too, but with a twisted touch. Again, long story short: Mark painted it, Raul suggested it, and we loved it. That’s why we went with it.
By the way, what are your lyrics about? Do you see Funeralopolis as a whole piece composed of sonic, visual, and lyrical elements as well?
Thuri: I take inspiration from all kinds of morbid horror literature and media. I can speak for everybody when I say, we see our band as a whole piece to tell gruesome stories. We do not work much in the visual department ourselves, but for sure, death metal is the right sound to adapt horror stories into music. A special kind in this case is the demo (…of Death). Yes, my main inspiration was taken from horror movies. ‘The Wrath’ is heavily inspired by Romero’s Dead-series. ‘Pit of Death’ is inspired by Army Of Darkness — lovers of the Evil Dead series will know what I had in mind, haha. ‘Devouring Crypts of Darkness’ was the personal converting of a nightmare I experienced myself, I wanted to give it a Lovecraftian touch. I also processed some personal struggles and losses I had at the time in the lyrics to ..of Death. (‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Existence Beyond’).
…Of Prevailing Chaos is a little bit more straightforward, lyric-wise. It deals with all kinds of nightmares and dreams I had (‘Curse of Darkness’, ‘Achluophobia’, ‘Beneath Deathless Depths’). Of course here we also have another song that is mostly inspired by horror movies. ‘Euphoric Blasphemy’ is my personal summary of the Hammer Dracula series. ‘Bo ‘unguloth’ was an idea I had, when I read another Lovecraft story (I think it was The Dunwich Horror) and I was completely stoned off my ass. I imagined what it would be like when a giant, rotten, potmonster would come to earth, haha. (Fun fact you see ‘Bo’ nguloth’ on the cover to that EP). And last on the EP comes the odd one. We are all huge Candlemass fans, and especially at that time we always played a banger or two when we met up in our Rehearsalcave. ‘Tale of a Mass’ is nothing more than a mixture of various Candlemass songtitles.
The lyrics of …Of Deceit and Utter Madness lyrics deal with various mythological and literary entities that are associated with messing up people’s minds. ‘Witchcraft Horror’, for example, is exactly that, a witch that dispenses some psychedelic drug to fuck the mind. ‘House of West’ deals with the serial killings of Fred and Rose West. ‘Crawling Casket’ is again a personal imagination of a doctor who deals with a potion to make dead things come alive. (A Herbert West of items, if you will). And all the last four tracks on our full-length (including the interlude) deal with Randolph Carter, his Dream-Cycle and the Crawling Chaos.
I’d never imagine that ‘Pit Of Death’ was based on Army Of Darkness! You know – your version just doesn’t sound that fun! Did you aim to show the brutal side of this story in your song?
Thuri: I think nobody would think of this movie when they read the lyrics and listen to the song. It’s based on one particular scene from the movie in the very beginning where Ash is thrown down into The Pit. The Pit is a location in the interior of Castle Kandar, and it was used to hold Deadites. Ash was thrown into the Pit, as Arthur didn’t believe The Wise Man’s statement that Ash was the chosen one and instead thought him one of Henry’s men. Ash fights the two Deadites in the Pit and survives. In my lyrics, they basically describe the horror of Castle Kandar’s Pit.
What’s your personal Top-5 of up-to-date horror movies?
Thuri: Tough question tho. I can’t decide for a fix on the top five, haha. There’s just too much good horror out there to enjoy. What I can say, for sure, is that the Evil Dead Series is still my unchallenged number one, followed closely by Night of the Living Dead. But I pretty much love all the old horror flicks. I like the area from the late ‘50s until the late ‘80s the most. Argento, Fulci, Romero, and Terrence Fisher, to drop some of my favorite directors’ names.
When I’m in the mood for it, I also enjoy the very old black-and-white flicks from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Over the years I really learned to appreciate the Hammer Horror Series. I’m not really into this jump, scare, and hardcore body count cheapness nowadays that horror movies attach great importance to. I need my horror atmospheric, morbid, and creepy.
Nico: I love Lists!
The Shining (1980)
The Innocents (1961)
Zombi 2 (1979)
Evil Dead (1981)
But I agree with Thuri. Too much good stuff here, and the newer flicks aren’t that interesting to me.
Thuri: Ah yes. I almost forgot Alien. Love that movie. That makes it also five movies for me .
Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle series differs from the main body of his writings with some truly dreamy psychedelic themes and images. Why did you choose the central stories of this Cycle for another straightforward bloody exercise, “Into Unknown Kadath”?
Thuri: Lovecraft’s baroque imagination of the macabre was always utterly fascinating to me. The story of Randolph Carter was always the story I could imagine myself always the most in, exactly for the dreamy psychedelic images. I always experience things and weird stuff like that in my own dreams. The concept of being trapped in space (in this case, on the moon) with an unknown threat is just bone-chilling. So it became obvious that I had to transfer this story into our music. ‘Into Unknown Kadath’ is just part two (Part One and Three are ‘The Envenomed King’ and ‘Endzeit Burial’) of our summary of Randolph Carter’s trek.
Funeralopolis – House Of West
There was big break after the EP’s release, considering Funeralopolis’ discography: You released two compilations of demo tracks in 2016 and 2019, not much for almost seven years. How did you spend this period as the band?
Nico: As previously stated, we are not the fastest band when it comes to writing new music and being productive in general. We hang out a lot also, besides the rehearsals, so we spent the time drinking absurd amounts of beer, visiting concerts, etc. Also, our commitments besides the band don’t make it easier finding time for the band. But in the end we did it, we have something we are happy with, and that’s what counts. And hey: we were still faster than Sadistic Intent!
Pascal: We also do quite rigorous quality control during songwriting. We’d rather trash songs that we don’t absolutely like than to put out everything just because it’s been a long time.
…Of Deceit And Utter Madness turns out to be extreme death metal-oriented work — tight, focused, and damn dynamic. Seeing Asphyx and Winter amongst your influences, I expected to hear more doom-laden edges, but death metal prevails in this material. Which influences do you feel were dominating on this album?
Nico: Thank you for the kind words! All of us are big heavy metal fans, and we take inspiration from all kinds of sources. I could do some excessive name-dropping here, but I think most of it has already been said in press texts and previous interviews, and most of our influences are obvious anyway… Combining fast Death Metal and Grindcore parts with Doom Metal was what came out naturally, after spending thousands of hours listening to Autopsy. I speak for myself here, but these two elements are a big part of what defines our sound, and I couldn’t imagine one without the other.
Pascal: Indeed, I don’t think our influences have changed much over time. The vision was always to create a dark and ugly death/doom/punk hybrid with a lot of dynamics. Like our own take on the ideas of bands like Asphyx, Autopsy and Obituary, rather than “pure” death/doom metal that is always slow.
What kind of sound did you want to get when you entered the studio? How long did you work on the album?
Nico: We wanted it exactly how we sound live and in the rehearsal room. Songwriting took us quite a long time, some songs were already written when we did …of Prevailing Chaos. The actual recording goes usually pretty quick though. We recorded bass, guitar, and drums live, all at once, and added some overdubs plus the vocals. All of this took us around three days at Hedgehog Studio in the Swiss mountains. Gregor, who recorded and mixed it, understood pretty well what we wanted and was patient enough to work with four idiots. Mixing also went pretty quick and Ted Tringo did a great job mastering it.
What about Funeralopolis’ live activity? How vital is it for you? How regularly did you play shows before the virus stuff happened?
Nico: I think Death Metal is destined to be played live, so concerts are pretty important for Funeralopolis. We write songs we like to play, and they are intended to work out live. Sadly, we aren’t able to play live very often, again because of commitments besides the band, but we play live as often as we can. There were times where we played once a month or more, even if it wasn’t that much in 2019… We don’t aim for a special image or something like that, and we play concerts, not rituals, so no bullshit here. We just want our live performances as intense and relentless as possible.
Funeralopolis – Witchcraft Horror
I hope you’ll have a chance soon. I hope all of us will have a chance… So do you plan to focus on writing new stuff while this situation isn’t solved? Or are you just ok with the …of Deceit and Utter Madness release and that’s enough for now?
Nico: Yes, that’s what we are doing right now. Collecting ideas, writing riffs, etc. I hope it won’t take us another seven years to finish our next output. But even if it does, it probably will be out before Skitsystem’s upcoming full-length, Ha! We’ll see what’s up next, maybe a split with another cool band, who knows…We want to go on for sure. Let’s see what the future brings. Maybe we’ll cover Illud divinum insanus in all its glory, who knows…
Thanks for your answers gents. I believe we’ve covered all the main topics considering Funeralopolis. How would you like to conclude the band’s ultimate message?
Nico: Thank you for your interest! I can’t think of a cool quote right now, but everybody reading this should consider listening to some Divine Eve… or Razor… Cheers and keep supporting the Underground in every possible way!