Omar Grech interviewed by PSL
How are things in Malta at the moment?
Hello Per. First off thanks for your interest in Beheaded and for sparing some space for us. Yes, Malta is preparing to enter the EU this week, so as you can imagine, there are lots of activities going on at the moment. Hopefully Malta's inclusion in the EU will be of benefit to the local music scene in general.
Please tell the history of the band!
[Laughs] ok, I'll try to keep it short, and compress 13 years of death grind pounding! Beheaded was started back in 1991, when founder members Chris Brincat [drums] and David Bugeja [guitars] teamed up to start the first death metal band in Malta. The line-up was very unstable in first years of existence, since no adequate musicians could be found. However, as soon as a decent line-up was recruited, a demo tape called Souldead was recorded. This demo tape caught the attention of the international death metal underground scene and was praised by lots of publications, and tape traders alike. Souldead also made us hook with X-Treme Records from Sweden to whom we had signed for the recording of our debut CD Perpetual Mockery. Perpetual Mockery was recorded in 1996, but ended up being released in 1998! A tour followed after that where we had the opportunity to play shows alongside Dying Fetus, Defaced Creation, Deranged, Fleshless etc. We also opened for Vader 5 times. After the return from that tour, we concentrated about writing new stuff, and recorded a 5 song promo in 1999. This was sent to a number of labels only. And of all those who showed interest we optioned to sign to Mighty Music. The 5 songs on the promo were then released as the Resurgence of Oblivion Mini CD. Another tour followed in 2001 with Anasarca, where we toured across Europe. Then March 2002 saw the release of our latest slab of deathgrind Recounts of Disembodiment, our third official release. We toured shortly after that in the US, where we had the chance to play at the Ohio Deathfest and New Jersey Metal Meltdown. On the return from the US tour we stopped in Germany to play in the Fuck the Commerce festival - which was a great occasion for us, to play in front of a massive crowd. 2003 saw the band recording a new promo CD, and a new deal was secured later on with the great label Unique Leader Records. Beheaded is presently consisting of: Melchior Borg - Vocals, Omar Grech - Guitars, Chris Mintoff - Guitars, David Cachia - Bass and Chris Brincat - Drums.
You've just signed with Unique Leader. It must be very exciting 'cause they seem like a great label with some really great bands in their fold!
You're right, Unique Leader is one hell of a label and its artist's roster is definitely one of the sickest around! We're really glad about this and we know that this will signify a new beginning for the band. We have really worked hard this past year, and to end up on such a label as Unique Leader made all the work worth the sweat in the end.
Did you get offers from other labels?
To be honest when we recorded the 2 track promo CD last November, we only sent it to a very few number of labels. One of them was obviously Unique Leader to which we are now signed, but there were other labels which showed interest to sign us even though we did not send them a promo CD. Anyway, we're very happy things went the way they went.
You were last signed to Mighty Music! What happened?
During our collaboration with Mighty Music we delivered the Resurgence of Oblivion MCD, and Recounts of Disembodiment CD. Both releases received very good critics, and were very well received in the brutal underground scene. We also tried to push both releases with touring, and we toured with Anasarca in 2001 when we organised the European Extermination tour, and in 2002 when we toured the US with Putrilage and Leukorrhea. We also took part in the Fuck the Commerce on our way back in Europe after the US tour. All this was purely organised by us without any input from the label. We have always strived on all fronts to push the band onto the next level, but we felt Mighty Music was not backing us in achieving this. That's the main reason why the collaboration was discontinued.
Your forthcoming album Ominous Bloodline when do you expect to record it?
Ominous Bloodline will be recorded in Summer 2004. The recording will take place at Temple Studios [Malta] as all our previous releases with David Vella behind the knobs. Ominous Bloodline will then be released in Autumn '04.
How does the new material compare to your previous album Recounts of Disembodiment? What can we expect from the new material?
The new material we're writing is a continuation with what we did on Recounts of Disembodiment. But we're pushing the limits to meet new extremes this time round. The newer stuff is slightly more technical and brutal in parts. We have also invested in some equipment to solidify our sound, so as you can see we're trying to improve on all fronts on the upcoming CD Ominous Bloodline. We are now using 7 stringed guitars and 5 string bass, and Chris's drum kit is looking more like a heavy machinery factory. We have already had a taste of what the new material sounds like on recording when we did the promo CD last November. We are very pleased with the way things are evolving - and we can foretell that Ominous Bloodline will be our best release to date. It will induce some serious physical damage!
Could you reveal any details? Song titles etc.?
I can tell you that the artwork will be handled by Japanese artist Sho - with whom we work really well. Our music and his art blend 100% well together. "Crowned with Repression" and "Vaults of Ageless Pain" are just two titles from the upcoming Ominous Bloodline CD.
Looking back in retrospective how do you then feel Beheaded has evolved and progressed from the debut Perpetual Mockery up to the coming Ominous Bloodline?
Beheaded has always written deathgrind in one form or another. Our first full length was recorded in 1996, but ended up being released in 1998! During the time we were writing the material for Perpetual Mockery we were into lots on European death metal. So, even though there was blast beats involved, the CD was more oriented towards a melodic deathgrind style - reflecting what we were into at that time. Also that CD was recorded on normal tuning as far as the guitars were concerned. When Perpetual Mockery was then released in 1998, we had already started to experiment with down tuning, so the sound got more deep and solid. Also during the time we toured in 1998 to promote Perpetual Mockery we felt that the songs lacked a bit of punch when played live. This made us change the direction we took with Perpetual Mockery and started writing more brutal and technical material, with a heavier sound. This had become obvious by the time we released the Resurgence of Oblivion first as a promo and then as an official release. Recounts of Disembodiment followed the trail of its predecessor but with an improved sound production. However on the upcoming album Ominous Bloodline we will push the limits to meet new extremes on all fronts, both sound wise and music wise.
Your lyrics seem very obscure! What topics do they deal with?
It's difficult to try and give a meaning to the lyrics, since they depict quite surreal scenarios. Our lyrics are written to please the reader. Everyone can interpret them in his own manner. Lyrics take time to finalize and if one has time to go into them he'll notice that our lyrics incorporate quite some thought. They are more oriented towards the psychological point of view, which outlines the weak nature of the human being. Lyrics are thoughts and bizarre ideas written on paper. Ideas just occur through our minds. In my opinion the lyrics complement the music a lot.
Which bands inspired you back in the day to start playing death metal?
I got into metal at the age of 12 when I started listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Dio. After that I wanted to hear heavier and faster metal genres. It all started to roll from there really. The first death metal band I heard was Obituary, and I was definitely hooked. Everyone in Beheaded has been in the death metal scene for more than 10 years, and this music has been embedded in our DNA now. Grave, Morgoth, Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Massacre etc are some of the few of the bands we still dig to this very day.
Everyone in the band has his favourite bands, which more or less are of inspiration to us as individual musicians and finally as a whole band. I, Omar [guitars], am into Malevolent Creation, Defaced Creation, Exhorder, Suffocation, Death, Pyaemia etc, Chris [guitars] is into Meshuggah, Morbid Angel, Necrophagist, Monstrosity, Spawn of Possession etc, David C. [Bass] is into tons of underground deathgrind sick bands and lots of old school, Chris [drums] is into Nile, Cryptopsy, Suffocation, whilst Melchior [vocals] is into Dying Fetus, Suffocation, Vader etc. All of us in Beheaded listen to lots of other bands especially those hailing from the US deathgrind underground. We've been in solid contact with that scene for years now. I take this opportunity to greet all our contacts in that scene!
Malta isn't exactly known for death metal or for that matter metal in general. How is the scene in Malta?
The metal scene is quite healthy here especially considering the size of the island. We always get a crowd of 300 people on average at local gigs, which is very good. Also, there are cool bands cropping up and a very good web zine called Pestilent [www.pestilent.net].
Any cool Maltese bands to recommend?
Yes, there are a number of bands which are worth noting: Forsaken which plays doom metal, Loathe and Slit, both of which play hardcore, and Abysmal Torment which plays chaotic deathgrind.
Do you often get the opportunity to play live?
We don't play on a regular basis here on local grounds. This is because Malta is a small island and so each time a gig is organised we'll meet the same faces over and over again. So we try to gig every 2 months on average here. However, as regards touring we'll definitely hit the road later on this year in order to promote our upcoming release Ominous Bloodline. We'll be looking for all possible opportunities to tour and play is as many festivals as possible after the release of Ominous Bloodline.
Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks again for the cool interview. Watch out for Ominous Bloodline this coming autumn on Unique Leader Records and try to catch us on tour later on in 2004. Visit our web site at www.beheaded.net , a new one is in the works and should be up soon. Anyone requiring further info etc should get in touch through email@example.com.