(In this new interview Comrade Aleks re-connected with Zdeněk Nevělík from the unpredictable Czech metal band Et Moriemur, whose compelling new album was just released a few days ago by Transcending Obscurity Records.)
Seven years ago or so we sat with Et Moriemur’s frontman Zdeněk Nevělík in a pub somewhere in Prague and talked about doom and other stuff, knowing nothing about how the world would change in the next few years. I wonder if there’ll be a chance to do it again…
However, music helps to keep the connection as I found the promo pack from Transcending Obscurity with Et Moriemur’s fourth album Tamashii no Yama in my mail box about two months ago, but it took time to clear my mind and find the energy to absorb these grim and exciting vibes. The band went aside from the death-doom path to a more experimental blackened sound and – as the album’s concept demands – even further.
This material is full of nontraditional and quite fresh ideas; it looks like the band revealed a new source of creativity inside their own inner resources. So I made my best effort to find out how it happened.
Hi Zdenek! How are you doing? What are the moods in Prague nowadays?
Hi Aleks, thanks a lot for having us! I am well and I hope you and your family are too – all the crazy things happening around us notwithstanding. We are having some sunny days in Prague at present, which is good for the mood.
As we speak now, Et Moriemur’s new album Tamashii no Yama is to be released in April, and your previous album Epigrammata was released four years ago. How did you spend this period between albums?
We’ve been slacking off, haha. Tamashii was recorded in Spring 2019 but its release was delayed because of the pandemics so we’ve basically been waiting for the album to come out. Well, we actually have started working on new songs but in a very, very relaxed manner!
Plus personally I have been busy lately with preparing the debut album of my new blackened hardcore project that I’ve started with my former bandmates in Italy. We will hit the record studio this summer and hope to find a label to release our songs soon. It will be everything Et Moriemur is not – fast, aggressive and cold!
I didn’t see it in Metal-Archives… Well, it’s still blocked in Russia but the “cat-version” saves the day. So what’s this “blackened hardcore project”?
It’s not in the Metal Archives yet – as a matter of fact we have not even chosen a name for the band yet, haha. When I was like sixteen and living in Italy we founded a hardcore band called To Je Zivot? where I sang. We played some gigs but then I moved to another city and the band virtually stopped. But we’ve remained friends all these years and now the time has finally come to make some noise together again. This new project will still be hardcore-based but with black metal influences. I can’t tell you more right now but, gods willing, you will hear more of us!
The new Et Moriemur songs are named after Japanese cities, mountains, and… and I don’t know. I didn’t find much. Let’s make it easier: What are your songs about? Are they connected with one general line?
Tamashii is inspired by the crash of the Japan Air Lines Flight 123 in August 1985 and the stories of the people aboard. The names of the songs point to the route of that flight, from the Tokyo Haneda airport to the mount Takamagahara where the plane crashed. So it’s a concept album and the songs are meant to be listened to in a row, though I think they work individually as well.
Why did you choose that specific theme for your album? Did you have any other concepts on your mind?
Probably this concept just chose me. I read about the accident by chance and I immediately felt intrigued about it – if you allow me to use this word for a tragedy like that. But inspiration comes from many different sources, you know. I did not have any other concept in mind until then; from that point on, all the musical ideas kept coming.
How long did you work over this concept? The band sounds quite traditional, quite western still, so didn’t you think to channel these Japanese themes we see in the album’s artwork and song titles using some eastern vibe, Japanese lyrics maybe? You have a bit of it in ‘Izu’ but it’s not too much.
Yes, the lyrics on the album are partly in Japanese, taken from traditional haiku poems. And we tried to put some Eastern melodical progressions on it, plus we used the Japanese traditional shakuhachi bamboo flute as well. So in my opinion the record sounds rather different from the previous Gregorian chant-based and in Ancient Greek-sung Epigrammata. But it´s still Western metal basically, I am not denying that.
Which elements of Japanese culture attract you most?
I’ve been interested in Japanese Zen Buddhism for a long time: I meditate, read about its philosophy, etc. Shinto, the traditional Japanese religion, is fascinating as well. What attracts me is the respect for all beings, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, even objects, and on a psychological level for all types of emotions including those we consider as “negative”.
Everything has the same right to be here as we have. Nothing is dead as we conveniently assume in our Western culture so that we can use and abuse it without remorse. Everything is interconnected and humans are just one of the parts of the universe, no more important than the rest.
There are neoclassical parts in Tamashii no Yama, there is some dark jazz as well, and your “death-doom” isn’t just death and doom again. How did you collect all these pieces in one puzzle?
We don´t like staying inside a particular genre. We always try to make our records as diverse as possible, on the other hand we want our music to sound homogeneous. I think our advantage is that we have an idea of the concept of the whole album even before we start working on the songs. Everything has to contribute in its own way to the general mood. That´s why there are many different influences on the album but it does not sound like that, actually.
There are a half-dozen guests on the album. How did you orchestrate their participation in the recording sessions?
We use many different instruments on every album, so we regularly have viola, violin and piano for example. As for Tamashii in particular, on top of those we used the harp and the shakuhachi flute I already mentioned. As you can imagine it wasn´t easy to find a shakuhachi player in Prague!
How did you spend these sessions? Was there something worth telling about?
All the musicians we work with are professionals so usually we have no problems at all. The only thing they forget sometimes is that they are recording their parts for a metal album, so it happens from time to time that they are taken aback by the hard guitars and noisy drums in the background. But it´s too late at that time, they are already trapped in the studio, haha.
How bad is the financial side of being in the band? Obviously you have to pay for your studio time and I wonder if digital sales or very, very rare gigs may grant any income nowadays? I know, I know that death-doom isn’t about money, but it’s right to have some compensation in the end.
Music is a hobby for all of us, we don´t make a living with it. If there is any income from the albums´ or merch´s sales we invest it back in the band. In any case it´s not enough and we have to finance our activities from own our pockets. But I think it´s better this way: if music were our job, we should put out a new album regularly – even without inspiration. Uninspired music would be the worst.
We spoke with you last time in 2014 and since then I haven’t heard about new doom bands from Czechia. There was The Tower which didn’t release anything big, maybe Silent Stream of Godless Elegy and of course Quercus. Not much. What’s wrong with doom in Czechia?
I think we all are just plain lazy, haha. I can only speculate about others but I guess everybody has their own stuff to do, family, work, etc., and music is just not among the highest of priorities in our lives. I think probably we consider music an essential tool to express ourselves but it still remains a hobby. But as I said, it’s only my guessing, you should ask the other guys.
Three of Et Moriemur’s members also play in Self-Hatred, is there any news from this side?
Two actually, it´s Ales (guitars) and Datel (drums). Ales told me that they are getting ready for their 10th year anniversary gig here in Pilsen. And they are completing the songs for their new album which they hope to record within a year or so.
Thanks for the interview Zdenek! Let’s hope things will be improved one day and we’ll have a chance to meet again. Okay, what are your plans for the rest of 2022 regarding Et Moriemur?
We will play some gigs to promote the new album plus we will continue working on new songs, so I guess it will be a busy year, music-wise. I hope to meet you again too Aleks, stay strong and take care, comrade!