(Comrade Aleks has brought us another excellent interview, this time with a member of the Spanish death metal band Bizarre, whose debut album Invocation Codex is set for release on October 29th by Transcending Obscurity Records.)
There’s a Russian proverb “To run ahead of the train”, which means to make haste and do something earlier than it’s really needed. But I’ve had another “Lovecraftian” period these recent months and found Bizarre’s Invocation Codex promo in my mailbox with the label’s description “Lovecraftian horror”. I couldn’t skip it!
The album is scheduled for October 2021, but as another proverb says – “Strike while the iron is hot” (and “steel is strongest so say we all”). These death metal variations on a theme of “holocaust of ecstasy and freedom” are performed in a savage and uncompromising way, and no bullshit – this four men from Spain are competent in the things they do.
I got in contact with Bizarre’s guitarist Juanpa “Evilead”, and he confirmed the band’s interest in an interview. but… things turned slightly another way and in the end we have this nice chat with Germán “Obszen” (guitars, bass).
Hi Juanpa! Transcending Obscurity Records has set the release date for Bizarre’s debut album Invocation Codex. Accept my congratulations! Do you have a chance to promote the album by performing some songs live or to stream a live performance in a studio?
Hi mate. This is Germán (Obszen), the other guitar player. I hope my answers will help you as well. Don’t worry, I’m nicer than Evilead hahaha. First, thanx so much for spending your time with our band and for giving us the opportunity to make ourselves known to the NCS readers.
Ok, about your question, unfortunately we can’t play live at the moment, even in a studio streaming. All the Bizarre members live quite far from each other, so in these pandemic times it’s very difficult for us to meet and play together.
Okay, Germán, nice to meet you! For me it seemed that Juanpa started Bizarre as a solo project but the Inner Necropolis EP was recorded with full lineup. You already had at least one more active band, Onirophagus. Why did you choose to start another one?
Well, Bizarre really started as a full band from the beginning. The line-up has changed from our first EP to the new album, but we still exist as a 4-member band. About why to start a new band… well, every Bizarre member has other bands. Juanpa plays in Moribundo and Insidious War, Mark sings in Aposento, Gabi is Wormed’s drummer, and I play in Onirophagus too. We started Bizarre because we love death metal in general, especially the Swedish and Finnish style. We don’t play that concrete kind of music in the other bands, so we felt that we needed to do that.
How do you differentiate the Swedish and Finnish death metal schools? You know, I’m more into slower stuff, so that’s a problem for me in understanding the Finnish one, though I have a clue what you mean when talking about “Swedish death”.
Well, Swedish death metal has two different styles. On one hand you’ve got the Stockholm style, with its famous HM2 distortion and its Discharge or Autopsy riffing style.
At the other hand there’s the Goteborg sound. This is a more heavy metal based style and more melodic than the Stockholm one. First In Flames, Eucharist, Ceremonial Oath, etc.
And then, you’ve got the Finnish death metal. I think it’s darker, dirtier, and more rotten than the Swedish one. Well, maybe not always… These songs/bands are the perfect balance between melody and brutality. Maybe more heavy, take a look to Rippikoulu and you’ll see what I mean.
Bizarre was created by our love for Demigod’s Slumber of Sullen Eyes, and nowadays there are many bands in my top favorite list like Hooded Menace, Krypts, Corpsessed or Korpsesoturi.
Germán, how do you share roles in Bizarre? Do all the members bring ideas for songs or is it totally your creation?
Every Bizarre member does his own job and everyone brings ideas to the music. I usually write the rhythm guitars and the bass riffs. Juanpa (Evilead) writes all the solos and melodies of the second guitar, putting on the Finnish style touch and writing all the keyboard parts. Mark (Berserk) writes all the lyrics and chooses the thematic aspects of the album, and finally Gabi (V-Kazar) does his magic on the drums, elevating the music to another level. Today we don’t have any bass player so that role was assumed by me too. Of course only in the studio. But, as I said, all of us give our opinion and ideas about everything, so we can say that the band is a big democracy.
What do you look for in other death metal bands? Which qualities attract you to this genre?
Lots of people say that they look for a band to be original, a band that sounds different. That’s ok for me, but I think that almost everything is invented in death metal, at least in classic or old school death metal. So what I look for in another band is that they really feel that kind of music, bands who make real dark, deep, and brutal songs. I’m always listening to new bands and fortunately today there are lots of awesome bands writing and playing great death metal music. Bands like Phrenelith, Frozen Soul, Hyperdontia, Graveyard (Spain), Triumvir Foul, Krypts, Hooded Menace, Ataraxy, etc.
By the way, a new Hooded Menace album is destined to appear at the end of August! What are the most significant releases of 2021 in your list?
Of course Hooded Menace is one of them. I think that Unleashed is currently at the studio finishing their new album, so that’s another one on my radar. Same with the new Galvanizer music. About albums already released until now, I love Frozen Soul’s new album. Germany’s Desaster is another great band that never disappoints and their new album is awesome. Cannibal Corpse’s Violence Unimagined is quite good too, and take a look at the new material from Hellslave, Crypts of Despair, and of course, the masters Asphyx.
Germán what was your plan for Invocation Codex? What did you want to say with this album?
At first we wanted to promote it as much as possible, and of course we’ll try to present it in a good live show if that damn pandemic will allow us. There isn’t any explicit message in the album. We just want to show that death metal is still alive and more brutal than ever. And of course, we want to vindicate the extreme metal of our country. We have many great bands that deserve more attention from the media, labels, etc.
Do you think that death metal lacks people’s attention? It seems to be quite popular now, it’s not the outsiders’ Grail like doom metal.
I think that death metal is in good health nowadays. Of course it’s a kind of music that will never become as popular as heavy or thrash metal but, in the context in which we place this kind of music, I think yes, it’s currently quite popular. The supply of bands far exceeds the demand of the fans with tons of new options to listen to, not only the classic ones.
The problem for a new band is that’s a double-edged blade, because it’s quite difficult to stand out from the other ones. So, you need to do everything very very well. And of course, you need to find a good label that promotes your music properly. Like Transcending Obscurity of course! Hahaha.
How did you work on Invocation Codex with all the pandemic restrictions around? Was it technically more difficult than always?
Fortunately the album was written and recorded just before that pandemic, so we didn’t experience any problem in making it. The real problems came with the releasing of the album. The entire world was wounded, and our label is based on India. That country suffered so much from this pandemic. Luckily it seems that things are coming back to their place and the situation is normalizing again.
Do you mean that you got the work done in time and recorded the album at a studio?
Yes. We recorded the drums in the studio a few months before we started with the other instruments. Then vocals, guitars, keyboards and bass lines were recorded at our own home studios. The spring before the pandemic we sent everything to Javi Félez at his awesome Moontower Studios to make the reamping, mixing and mastering of the entire album.
We signed with Transcending Obscurity the summer before all that shit happened.
By the way, did this pandemic change your attitude towards playing metal? You know – the world is crumbling down, and it seems there are quite a few important things around us…
I think this pandemic changed lots of minds all around. Personally, I learned to give much more value to the real important things. Things like my family, friends or playing with my brothers and bandmates. We were under total lockout, and things seemed to become badder everyday. Music in general, and metal especially, helped me to handle the situation. So, answering your question, yes, I love music much more than ever, and I think that feeling is reflected in the new songs that I am writing for Bizarre and my other bands.
The label uses the tag “Lovecraftian horror” in order to describe the madness you unleash on your listeners. How much of it does Invocation Codex grant from your point of view? Well, Tsathoggua is an obvious reference…
Yes indeed. All the songs are about the work of horror literature masters such as Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker and especially H.P. Lovecraft. All the Bizarre members are a great devourers of fantasy and horror literature. So it’s natural that our lyrics deal with that thematic.
How did you work over the Lovecraftian songs? What makes you see his myths as such an outstanding piece of art?
We love horror literature in general, but for us the masters will always be Lovecraft, Barker and Poe. About how we work with their stories. Mark (Berserk) doesn’t take them literally but as an inspiration for making his own tales in the lyrics. Maybe the song ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ is the only one really based on a concrete Lovecraft story, so we decided to name it as the original one. Lovecraft is one of the most inspirational seeds in extreme metal. I think that’s because of his sense of shaping psychological horror in his stories and his particular way of treating the narrative. Furthermore, he created an outstanding imaginary world of creatures, myths, legends and a deep dark atmosphere that surrounds everything. The way that he takes you into the paranoia and desperation is fascinating.
Poe wrote all his stories in the first half of the 19th century and Lovecraft did it early in the 20th, and they still look modern today.
May you tell more about the album’s songs? Which concrete stories are in their basement?
There aren’t concrete stories, or stories based in concrete books except ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’. The thematic of the album is about darkness, paranoia, psychological horrors, madness, desperation….and all those sweet things are mixed with stories about pagan and heretic ceremonies, horrors from beyond… you know, the usual sweet and romantic stuff in death metal hahaha.
But, as I told you before, the lyrics are written by Mark, so I think he would be the only one capable of describing them more deeply than I did. Only he knows what really happens in his disturbed mind (creepy sound).
Lovecraft’s mythology is one of the few big literary influences in metal music. Can you name bands who transfer his ideas with their music in the most precise and accurate way – from your point of view?
There are two great Spanish bands that come to my mind. Oniricous and Graveyard. Great music, great lyrics, great sound. I recommend them to everyone who likes true death metal. Puteraeon and Sulphur Aeon are awesome bands to whom everyone should take a listen.
And of course, one of my favourites bands ever, the missed Darkified.
Thanks for the hints man! Death metal never gets out of fashion, and Transcending Obscurity Records’ current list of releases is another proof. What differentiates Bizarre from others? What kind of experience can you grant to listeners?
Our music is mostly classic death metal, but I think we’ve managed to give it a distinctive and personal touch that makes us sound different from other bands. We always play with various guitar lines and try to sound fresh, brutal and true on each song. We intersperse mid-tempos, fast parts and other much slower and heavier parts, making Invocation Codex what we think is a very varied album. Whether we have succeeded or not, listeners and specialized media will tell.
So Germán… you finished Invocation Codex two years ago, does it mean you already have another bunch of songs ready to be recorded?
We’ve got other bands, and luckily we never stop writing, playing or listening to music. The last year we’ve been focused in our other projects, but yes, maybe we only have a few new songs, but I can confirm that there are tons of riffs written and recorded in our home studios. We’ve got the raw material to write an entire new album. Despite this, we want to focus our energies in promoting Invocation Codex more than beginning to write the new album. In a few months we’ll see.
Thanks for the interview man! If you have a few more words to tell, it’s time, bring it on!
Yes! Me and all the Bizarre members want to thank you and the NCS crew so much for your time and attention. We encourage all the death metal fans to take a look to our album Invocation Codex. We’re sure that it will not disappoint you! It will be released in late October this year, but you can listen to the first two songs at the Transcending Obscurity YouTube channel. Death metal in its brutal and dark way!
And if you liked it, you already can preorder it in the Transcending Obscurity label shop.