(Comrade Aleks has brought us this very lively interview with Kostek Dolganov from the Russian death metal band Cenobite, whose Hellraiser-themed debut album Dark Dimension was released in the fall of 2020.)
It’s strange but Metal-Archives indicates that only three metal bands bear the name Cenobite, and it seems that only the Russian followers of Hellraiser’s Leviathan cult are active.
The Russian band was formed by Chamber of Torture members – Kostek Dolganov (bass, vocals), Sergey Necrom (guitars), and Nikita Stepanov (drums). Well, actually there were three other drummers in this lineup, and the lineup who recorded the Dark Dimension album a year ago consists of Kostek and Sergey alongside Andrey Andrianov (drums) and Paul Skallig (guitars), who have already left the band.
But the lineup’s changes are the last thing that should interest our good readers, so it’s better to point out a far more important thing – that Cenobite perform pretty strict and thick death metal, and they do it well. As for other stuff… Kostek Dolganov is the one who can tell this story better.
Hi Kostek! How are you? What’s going on in Cenobite’s lair?
Hello! A new ally, a virus, has arrived to help us, so there is a chance of winning the war with Life!
It’s the first time I’ve heard such nonsense since spring 2019. Even bands who write lyrics about judgment day on a regular basis see nothing fun in this situation. I’m wondering what kind of benefits Covid grants to Cenobite?
To begin with, any difficult situation (although in comparison with plague epidemics in the Dark Ages or world wars in the 20th century, the current situation is not so terrible) shows who is who. Lockdowns mean there are no concerts, but it also means more time to write music. There is nothing funny for us too, in the current situation, but we are not going to smear the snot. There were times a lot scarier than now and everything was good for us in the end. After all, death is a natural part of being. It is neutral.
Cenobite is a death metal band with lyrics focused on the Hellraiser series, torture, and horrors, and three of Cenobite’s four members continue to work in Chamber of Torture, a death metal band with lyrics focused on torture, the walking dead, and homicide. Attention, here’s a question: where’s the difference?
In fact, the themes and styles are different. And very. Chamber of Torture is old Florida school brutal death metal, and Cenobite is a pretty European mix of death with a pinch of punk. And the lyrics are very different too. The former sing about psychos and zombies, the latter explore the world of the Hellraiser and the Leviathan’s war against life. By the way, only two participants intersect.
Both bands are located in Saint Petersburg, and though we can talk about the local death scene, I can’t remember a Russian death metal band who has been famous world-wide. Probably Russian Winter, as pioneers, and… May you help me and name a few more titles?
Russian Winter? This is the first time I’ve heard about it 🙂 Yes, it’s difficult with world-famous bands from Russia. We are still newcomers in music, but it’s okay, we are persistent. We will win our listeners! I know that Pseudogod reached the USA. I can’t remember anyone else.
Pyre probably. maybe Graveside and Hieronymus Bosch, at least they were popular back in the ’90s… Then the next question is natural: With what kinds of bands (regarding the death metal scene) do you play live?
Yes, these bands are quite famous in Russia. I can’t say anything about the popularity in the world. And as for the company for live performances … Well, we don’t have very strict criteria. The main thing is that the bands should fit with the atmosphere. Here we have not a great choice and there is no way to turn up our nose.
Which bands formed your vision of how Cenobite should sound? Also, this direction you’ve chosen has a pretty limited range of lyrical themes so why did you search there knowing that hundreds of bands write texts about tortures, etc? Though I need to admit there aren’t other active bands with such a name and it’s really strange.
Perhaps the entire pantheon of ’90s death metal. But in general, one day I managed to achieve such a disgustingly heavy guitar sound that I thought I had to write songs to match it. I added some motives of the creativity of the most destructively disgusting musician GG Allin, and happened what happened. Of course, later something was changed, altered… well, this is normal and inevitable in creativity. And the lyrics… In fact, Hellraiser‘s lore is very extensive. Who do the Cenobites obey? What are his motives? By what means does he achieve his goals? Isn’t all this cruelty, wars, murders, self-destruction, destruction of nature, and other ongoing hell the consequences of this “sovereign of the dark dimension’s” activities? So we have more than enough themes for songs.
Do you aim to make Cenobite a band with some distinctive features? With something that would differ it from others?
Of course we want to stand out. We would like to stand out with a deeply worked-out concept, our own sound that goes beyond the limits. We would like to stand out with hurricane live performances, vivid images. I hope someday we will succeed!
Did you watch all the Hellraisers’ series? From my point of view the movie lost a lot of its originality after the second or maybe third part and I didn’t watch the last parts at all. I wonder what’s new that could happen there…
That’s right. Only the first two ones are worthy of attention. The first film is an adaptation of the book, while the second covers that universe in more detail. They are basically like one movie in two episodes. The rest is already rubbish, made by mediocrities in order to earn extra money. I really hope that the new film will be made with love for the original and attention to detail.
Okay, you had the Lament Configuration EP in 2017, and then used your time to work over Dark Dimension material (partly distracted by work with Chamber of Torture). How did you work on the full-length album? Where did you record it?
Not certainly in that way. There were no plans to continue after the EP was released. Everyone was busy with other groups, other material. And only in 2019, when we decided to take a break from the Chamber of Torture, we dug up an old concept and decided to continue. All the material was written at home, rehearsed with a drummer (for this purpose, an old friend Andrey Andrianov was invited) and then recorded at our studio SIC_SOUND. All work on the album was done by me. And only after that the line-up was assembled for rehearsals of live performances.
And what’s your role in Bodybag and Internal Damage? Do you write most of the material there too?
In Bodybag I’m writing music, recording guitars, bass, programming drums, and doing all the studio work. Lyrics and vocals are handled by my colleague Paul from the Chamber of Torture. In Internal Damage I also come up with all the material, write the guitar, vocals. In general, I do not sit idle and wish the same for everyone.
Dark Dimension was released during the pandemic in September 2020. Did you have a chance since then to play this stuff live?
In Russia, it is a little easier with bands on events. There were concerts and even a tour of 12 shows. So the live program was played well. And even new material managed to sound from the stage. Of course, we really want to leave our country, but so far we are not allowed.
What was the feedback? How did you promote the band?
We have feedback and this is already good in the modern world. Our label Svanrenne Music is responsible for the promotion and does it very well. We are focused on music, concert programs, and trying to squeeze out everything possible. This is our contribution to the promo of the group.
How did the Hellraiser tour go? What kind of problems did you meet on your way?
In principle, there were no problems. The only thing that always upsets and does not allow the show to be held at the maximum level is the low technical level of the venues and staff. Here, whatever one may say: small budgets = you have to do everything yourself. You get tired of this and by the beginning of the performance you have almost no strength. But in general we were satisfied. Great trip!
What are your rules of surviving on the road during tours?
Do not drink alcohol (do not abuse). If this is done, then there is enough time and energy for everything! For sleep, walks, performance. There are no more rules. Yes, and this is not a rule, but somehow it turns out that way.
What’s the furthest location you reached with your bands? Did you play abroad?
It so happened that the band gathered together, went on stage, and … covid19 burst out. So we haven’t gone abroad yet. The farthest place from our place of deployment, where we had a chance to perform, is the city of Yekaterinburg. 2400 km from us. Almost like from the west to the east coast of the United States.
I didn’t find the band’s Facebook profile. Did you receive anything from abroad?
Yes, we don’t have a page on FB. We decided that a page in Bandcamp would be enough. Through it we communicate with foreign countries. Perhaps we will make a Facebook too if it is really needed.
Well, and does Bandcamp really work without other social networks?
I don’t know how good it is, but people buy music, listen, write messages, and buy merch. Of course, the more social media you capture, the better. Such is the time. But we have no one to do these modern and fashionable things. We hope more for live performances.
So after all… as Hellraiser’s theme is limited to some point, do you feel you can go further with the next album? I mean what else would you like to tell with new stuff? I remember there is a crossover comics – something like Cenobites vs. Nightbreed, may this work for you?
We are more attracted by the philosophical side. For example, how can one persuade one life to destroy another. In general, as I said, the concept is much deeper than it seems at first glance and you can dig into it for a long time. And you need to! The more you learn, the more interesting it becomes. The Hellraiser universe has its own counterpart to Wikipedia. Even after rummaging around there, you can find out a lot of interesting things.
Dark Dimensions was released one year ago. How soon will Cenobite return to the studio?
Now we are actively rehearsing new material, we have already prepared most of it. I hope to start recording a new full-length album in the spring.
Okay, thanks for the interview. What’s Cenobite’s ultimate message?
We are always glad to talk! However, words are not our path. All the same, we get to the North American scene and the ears of Americans, and then the covid will seem like a childish prank. All the bad things!