(Not long ago we had the good fortune of premiering a tremendous song from a great debut album by Formless Oedon from the Philippines, coming out July 24th via their label Memento Mori, and now we have more good fortune — an interview by Comrade Aleks of all the band’s members.)
It’s a really curious case as all of our respondents today — Andrei Alemania (drums), Jonathan Miranda (guitars, bass), Rozel Nikko (vocals, guitars, bass), and Jayson Gonzales (guitars) — play in three different bands at the same time all together. They perform death metal in Nullification, they practice a sort of death/thrash metal in Desolator, and Formless Oedon became a vessel of their death metal ideas with slightly progressive and doomy edges.
Being formed in Laguna, Philippines, Formless Oedon seemed to have caught some luck and signed with the Spanish extreme metal label Memento Mori, which is preparing to release their Streams of Rot full-length album in late July. However, right now you can not only listen to their first tracks “Heavenly Abomination” and “Calcine Purification“, but also read this interview with Formless Oedon members.
Hi gentlemen! How are you? What’s going on in Formless Oedon’s camp?
Formless Oedon: We’re great, how are ya?
How did you take a decision to start the band? How did you decide which style and lyrical themes to perform in Formless Oedon?
Nikkō: I’ve always wanted to start a band but the idea and precursor to what is now known as Formless Oedon came to me in around 2013 or ’14. I wrote some riffs and lyrics but never really finished anything due to not finding any members who were on board with this. Lots of people I knew back then were more into black metal than death. So, there was a huge lack in the staff department with the project.
The idea didn’t come to me again until 2016 or 2017 when I met Andrei and Jonathan. They invited me to fill in for Desolator a week before they were supposed to play a show. We showed up, I fucked up some of it, but they made me permanent afterwards. And that’s how everything restarted again. Told them about this idea I had a year later and we gave it a shot. The main riffs of “Daughter of the Chaosmos” and “Time” came from drafts I made years ago. Formless Oedon was supposed to be a one-time thing. But after the attention it received, we decided to let it stick around some.
Andrei: On Deathless Luminosity, most of the ideas came from Nikkō. The original plan was to make it sound cavernous with Nikkō ‘s caveman riffs. However, Jonathan has mojos in his riffs which gave an ethereal vibe to the songs, which makes them more interesting. So, we decided to add those vibes when we finalized the arrangement of the songs.
I’ve found only what “Oedon” is a term connected with the Bloodborne RPG. Can you reveal the meaning behind the band’s name?
Nikkō: Formless Oedon is a Lovecraftian entity in the game. Much of what we know about it can only be found through in-game item descriptions but it apparently has a huge impact in the story, but never really makes an appearance. I thought it was fitting to be used as the band’s name. I originally wanted this band to release something once and then disappear forever, much like its namesake. Maybe one of these days we’d live up to its name. Who knows?
The band debuted with Deathless Luminosity EP in 2020, what kind of impact did it cause? Was it your way to Memento Mori?
Nikkō: Yes, it was unreal to receive a direct message from Raul. No bullshit, no playing around, he told me he’d love to sign our band in the future. I immediately said yes, but I was surprised he even took interest. I didn’t think much of the EP. It was a release done to vent out my years’ long frustration of not being able to create this band sooner. So, it was a huge surprise for me to get the attention of one of the best metal labels out there. Getting a following because of that EP was something I also didn’t expect.
Andrei: To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from our debut EP but I am proud that we caught enough attention to get signed with Memento Mori.
All of you are involved in three bands started almost in the same time – Formless Oedon, Desolator, and Nullficiation. What was the reason behind starting three death-oriented bands at once?
Nikkō: No deep reasoning behind it. We are four friends who happen to play instruments and wanted to make music. So, why else should we form new bands and stress over finding new members when I already have these amazing talents with me? I admire these guys. No one can replace them in the band for me. Death, thrash, doom, or whatever, these guys will be my crew always.
Jonathan: Well Jayson, Andrei, and I are old pals since college. We’ve been creating music since then. An old school thrash metal band from the Laguna Bay area. We are the original members of Desolator with the two other original members, Lawrence and Don, who separated ways shortly after the first Desolator demo. Then, we met Nikkō in 2019, the collaboration went good and awesome, and from there we created Formless Oedon, new-formed Desolator, and later Nullification.
Andrei: We just don’t want to limit ourselves to one particular subgenre, I guess.
Jayson: Aside from we were not limiting ourselves, I think the main reason was the differences in music genre particular to metal. Everyone’s ideas and background in music were applicable to these three bands.
Your debut album Streams of Rot sounds very impressive sound-wise. Where did you record these songs? How did the recording session go?
Nikkō: Thank you. All songs were recorded at Jayson and Andrei’s homes. I wrote and recorded some songs for this album at Andrei’s home. The rest of the songs were recorded by Jayson on his own and would send what he finished to us so we can add our parts. He did an incredible job with it.
So, basically, Jonathan, Andrei, and I live relatively closer to one another than we do to Jayson, so we ended up recording separately. There were huge gaps in between recording but we’re glad we managed to keep everything consistent. It was easier this way to prevent wasting time and money in big studios, only to end up with mediocrity or suffer from writer’s block. It also worked for us because we have clashing work and family schedules. This is very different from how we recorded the first EP. Both had its pros and cons in my opinion.
Jayson: Three songs were recorded at Andrei’s studio and the rest were at my mini room studio. It was a great experience since everyone was involved in creating songs. There were also times that we ended up with nothing, no ideas, no riffs, and we needed to pause for a couple of days to regain the mood and everything. After all the session we did, we finally made a full-length for Formless.
Andrei: Most of the riffs and ideas for Streams of Rot came from Jayson. I just re-arranged and made minor tweaks on some songs’ vibes to create a distinct sound in every song. Then as always, Nikkō did a fantastic job of writing lyrics that match the character of each song. While Jonathan wrote the solos to add the cherry on top.
What were your requirements for the album’s sound when you started these sessions? Did you have some bands which were your landmarks?
Jonathan: To be honest it’s always the old sound we are creating since we started Desolator in 2016. That sound has always been my foundation ’til now. My influences never get old.
Nikkō: The only requirement I’ve always had is for it to be real. To record something that you believe in. Basically, what that means for me is to write realistic riffs at a realistic pace with a realistic tempo. Not sounding too technical for the sake of speed, not being over the top just for it to be brutal, and not to have any excuses to be sloppy just to call it “underground”. We have our strengths as musicians and we took advantage of what we’re good at. Musical influences can only take you so far. In the end, it all goes down to your own ideas and how you transcribe them sonically.
Jayson: I’m not very particular on the requirements themselves. I’m just playing the guitar, recording the riffs, following the vibe of the beats. As I recall, during the recording session, I was listening to particular bands like Solitude Aeternus, Mgla, some stuff from death metal bands, and of course the first EP of Formless Oedon.
There are some noticeable efforts to cross into prog-death territories as you did in the “Voidspawn” track. Do you feel yourself ready to dive into the progressive vortex?
Jonathan: Yes. Definitely.
Nikkō: I owe those parts to Jonathan. The guy is built for this. If it were only my parts in there it would be too fucking boring. He’s an amazingly talented guitarist. I’ll go as far as to say that he might be the best in the scene. I can’t wait for him to showcase it more in the future.
Andrei: I am not so sure, to be honest. I just wrote a drum section that I thought would kind of break the mood of the song then I asked Jonathan to re-create the riffs I had in my head for that particular section and I think we pulled it off. It was fun adding unusual style to a song to add some character, so I guess we might do more of those in the future.
Metal-Archives points out that your lyrical themes are “Cosmic horror, H. P. Lovecraft, Universe, Entropy”. How much of this is in Streams of Rot?
Nikkō: In this album, I think the lyrical themes could be more accurately described as “dark fantasy”. There are very few Lovecraftian elements to it, if any at all, if I recall correctly.
How do you organize the band’s live activity? What kind of metal culture or ethics is in Laguna?
Nikkō: We haven’t played a show, and the ones we were invited to we pulled out of. There is a very personal health issue with one of our members. We tried looking for a session player but to no avail. Maybe we’re just not well-liked in the scene. But who cares? Maybe one day if the matter is resolved we could play as the complete line-up. I’m still hoping. Being fathers and having full-time jobs and businesses made it harder for us to sort our schedules as well.
How do you see your prospects now in the Philippines or abroad as you have the first official full-length ready for release? Do you have a plan about what to do further?
Jonathan: Well, I think, more local shows and hopefully abroad, as well. It’s always my dream to have live shows abroad but with my current health condition, I guess I will be more focused with home recording and local shows for now.
Nikkō: All I’m certain of is that I will keep working on Formless Oedon and our other projects so long as my bandmates are into it. I don’t force myself to keep writing for the sake of it so I don’t expect them to do the same thing to themselves. That’s why having three bands is a great thing because it allows us to work on another front after we’re finished with another. It keeps your creative juices flowing and your ideas fresh. If what we do gets us some listeners that’s great, and if we get hate for it, so be it. We do this shit, first and foremost, for ourselves.
Jayson: Yeah, as much as we want to share our music here, we are better off taking the opportunity somewhere else.
Andrei: I feel great and excited that we finished our first debut album for Formless Oedon and signed with Memento Mori. At this point, we do not have any particular plans yet. We are just chilling and waiting for the release of our album before we dive into another project.
Thank you for the interview! Did we forget something?
Formless Oedon: That’s all. Thanks for having us!