New Zealand's Dawn of Azazel may not be a band that rings a bell with most people but they are trying hard to change that with their debut The Law of the Strong which is a display of brutal and somewhat chaotic death metal. I recently got the opportunity to exchange a few words with founding member, bassist and vocalist Rigel Walshe about the past, present and future of this promising band.

Rigel Walshe interviewed by PSL

How are things going at the moment?
Killer, we're just concentrating on composing material of a high standard for album 2.

Please tell the story of how Dawn of Azazel was formed?
I always hate this question [laughs]. Well I met Tony in '97, Joe in '98 and Phill in '99. We've had different members coming and going previous to that but we've all been playing together since we were teenagers.

What do you feel you can offer people with your debut album The Law of the Strong?
A fist in the face of mediocrity.

Is The Law of the Strong made up entirely by material from your demo days?
No. The demo was "Monarch of Bloodshed and Eternal Victory", "Conqueror Throned"," Triumph upon Equinox" and "Bloodforged Abdication". In the booklet you can see that the songs were written between 97 and 02, so as a consequence there's some quite diverse shit that's been composed during that time.

How would you describe your music? I've seen it categorized as being war metal is this a term that you find fitting?
Not really. A lot of the reviews I've read seem to just compare us to Conqueror, Blasphemy, Revenge etc. Some of those bands are an influence, but they are one amongst many. I don't think our music really fits into that style; to me there are a lot of different sounds on the album. A lot of the reviews I've read don't seem to be doing anything but reading the promo sheet and making up their mind from there

If anything I guess I'd group us as death metal. My strongest influences are probably Incantation and Immolation, but I don't really give a fuck about categorising our sound; people should use their ears and make up their own mind.

Your style seems very chaotic at times and not very accessible at times. Aren't you afraid that it may prevent some people in buying the album or is this not a concern?
To be chaotic was the intent with some of the parts, for example the break near the end of "Victory [Iniquity Guides My Blade]" barely controlled chaos. I think that can create a very brutal and fuckked up sound which comes across as more "real" than a really clinical protocols click click type of brutality.

Well I guess if you only like super clinical clean bands, or you want some band that sounds exactly like your other favourite bands of course you aren't going to like someone that breaks the mold a bit and has a more fucked up organic sound. But I don't really see why someone who likes brutal metal won't like the sound if they give it a listen.

Your style and sound is pretty unique which seems rare these days where a lot of bands tend to sound somewhat alike. How long have you been working on bringing the Dawn of Azazel sound to where it is today?
Thanks. If there's one thing we strive to be its original. I think there are very few innovators in metal today. With things like the internet and CD burning it's pretty easy to start a label or promote your band, and I think that's saturated the scene with clone bands. When we toured Europe I met a lot of people whose mentality was that they just wanted to hear bands exactly like what was the cool/cult/whatever sound. That was quite an eye-opener. Shit would have been a lot easier for us if we just wanted to clone Suffocation or Darkthrone or whatever.

On The Law of the Strong the songs were composed over 4 years, and I think you can hear that there's been a lot of evolution of our sound over that time. That's given the album quite a schizophrenic quality, but for me that just adds to the insanity and brutality. If we can keep our stuff original and consistent for enough albums to be considered innovators that's mission accomplished for me man.

Which bands have had an influence on you?
Immolation, Incantation, Today is the Day, Dillinger Escape Plan, Conqueror, Blasphemy, Bestial Warlust, Order from Chaos, Suffocation, Devourment, Deeds of Flesh, Morbid Angel, and Sarcofago.

Your lyrics seem somewhat apocalyptic. Can you tell a little about them?
I just wanted to create lyrics that accompany the feeling of the music, total unrestrained violence, but intelligent and thought-out. I'm most fucked off at people that are afraid to confront their fears, who waste their potential, and just follow like sheep, basically the weak and fucking mediocre that infest our world. I try to use a lot of verbs to add to the power of the words when they are put over the music. Several of them were written when I was 17-18 so they are a few years old now.

The Law of the Strong was released awhile ago so I assume you by now have some new material in the melting pot. Could you provide us with some details?
We have 7 songs already completed. I think it will be in a more brutal direction. The new album should be recorded in January 05 and be out early 2005. I think it will retain our sound but it will definitely take a step away from some of the older stuff.

Since the album was put out some time ago I guess it would be okay to ask how the response has been to it.
It's been really good; the album only got released in February actually so the sales so far have been very good for 6 months considering we're pretty unknown overseas. A lot of the reviews I've read don't really seem to understand what the fuck the band is about, like I was talking about above. That can be quite frustrating, but that's something you've gotta struggle against when your doing something different and starting out. I think most people who listen to the album will realise that we are doing something different. The response in New Zealand has been really excellent we've got quite a lot of more mainstream coverage here, which I think can be a good thing.

How is the extreme metal scene in New Zealand? I'm familiar with Ulcerate but that's also pretty much it!
The extreme scene here is killer; there are a lot of good bands and a lot of support from the scene. We get consistently large and aggressive crowds at shows at the moment, which is great because when we started playing in 99 the scene was fucking nothing man. Ulcerate are probably my favourite New Zealand band at the moment, there are a lot more killer death metal bands here in Auckland also.

You're signed to Poland's Agonia Records. How did you end up in their fold?
Well I tape traded the demo with zines, labels and traders for several years; we got a few offers, and put out a 7" on Hellflame records in Italy on 2002. Agonia heard of us through that and our demo and offered us a very good deal; we chose them because they also offered to set up tours for us overseas, which is the most important thing for us.

I think were pretty different to everything else that Agonia has released, and I think with our next album especially will solidify that. However I can't really think of any label who's roster we'd fit on. I think Agonia does a good job on most of the shit that a label is supposed to do, and we're generally pretty happy with them.

You've just returned from your European tour. How did that go?
Our European tour went down pretty well we got some good responses and met some killer fans, but I don't think we will ever tour with black metal bands again, it was a pretty different sort of crowd behaviour to what we are used to.

Any closing comments?
Thanks for the interview!

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