Extreme Belgian deathers Emeth put out their sophomore album Reticulated via Brutal Bands earlier this year. I wasn't very familiar with Emeth's music prior to hearing Reticulated, but their chaotic death metal impressed me quite a bit and no doubt that the album will only add positively to their already fine reputation. I recently asked vocalist Tom Kimps some questions about Reticulated, the influence from Cryptopsy and Immolation, Studio Excess, Brutal Bands as well as lots of other things.
Reticulated has been out for a little while now. How has the reactions been so far?
Great, I'm very satisfied with the reactions. So far I have not read any bad reviews which of course are very stimulating. It's always good to read and hear when people appreciate your work.
Musically where do you hear the biggest difference between Insidious and Reticulated?
The new songs incorporate a lot more melody and dynamics. Compared to the first album which was mainly focussed on brutality Reticulated has a more aggressive straight into your face feeling. On Insidious I only used the guttural grunts, but for Reticulated I tried several new things and finally decided to change the vocal approach in order to emphasize the dynamics and aggression. The old approach would flatten out the music too much in my opinion.
I hear a bit of Cryptopsy and Immolation in your music. Are these bands you listen to?
Yes, I've been a big Cryptopsy fan for a long time now. None So Vile and Whisper Supremacy are still one of my favourite albums ever! We hear Cryptopsy and Immolation mentioned a lot when people are trying to compare our music with other bands. There are also a lot of people who are saying we play Canadian death metal these days! As a singer I'm influenced by bands like Behemoth, Gojira, Nile, Aborted, Morbid Angel and so on.
Your music is brutal death metal, but with a chaotic touch as well as a bit of melody here and there. It's not the common and quite predictable brand of death metal that so many other play. Is this something you consciously try to avoid or is it just turning out that way?
Yeah, like I mentioned before we incorporated more melody and dynamics in the new songs. The chaotic feel was more present on the Insidious album then on Reticulated. We also don't like to copy ourselves over and over again, so we're doing our very best to keep the music interesting for us and for the listener. Hopefully people appreciate this!
Since Insidious you've expanded the line-up with a new bassist and guitarist. How much influence has the new people in the band had on the direction of the material on Reticulated?
We've added them because they are good musicians and their musical abilities added a lot to the Emeth sound in a live situation. They did not really partake in any song writing nor will they do in the future. They are, so to speak solely added to the band as live musicians. This is working out great for the band and gives us the possibility to perform in the best circumstances.
Death metal is often associated with rather superficial and bloody lyrics. How big a role do the lyrics play in Emeth's musical universe?
The lyrics are very important. There's always a concept or a theme that is being written about. The subject isn't always very clear if you read the lyrics so there is a huge freedom of interpretation. There's an inward-looking, introspective, self-referential exploration wherein the main movements of metaphor and transgression/transcendence happening on a subtle, finely detailed plane, rather than a projecting outwards of openly emotive/evocative themes. None of us likes the usual gore or hate everything kind of lyrics.
You once again recorded in Studio Excess. Was it natural for you to go back there?
Yes, we went back to the Excess studio and we spend almost three weeks there. We decided to record Reticulated in the Excess studio again because we are still satisfied with the Insidious recording. We once again worked with engineers Hans Pieters and Dennis Lidelmeier. The fact that we worked with the same people again is an advantage because they still knew we are very difficult people to work with, so they were prepared!
Do you plan on going back there again or will you most likely try something new next time?
It's not decided yet. The Excess studio is definitely an option for the next one, but we are also looking for some other things right now. We're just keeping all options open.
You worked with Daniel Bergstrand on Reticulated. What made you pick him and will you be using him again on the next release?
Before we entered the studio we made a list of possible producers and we thought Daniel Bergstrand was the perfect man to do the job and we are still very satisfied about his work! He's a truly driven person and has a lot of experience. He has produced some of the best albums out there in the last couple of years, so the decision to ask him was not that difficult. We hope to work with him again in the future that's for sure!
You had Sven from Aborted do a few vocals on the album. How did that come around?
We know Sven for a long time now and it was an honour to work with him. He did some vocals on the song "Karmic Impediment".
How is your relationship with Brutal Bands? They seem like a good label!
We're really pleased with everything that the label is doing to help us out. The mutual understanding and communication is just 100%. We're really on the same level and we'll be forever grateful for all that the label did for us while we we're making our way onto what will hopefully turn out to be a long and successful journey in the world of music.
If I'm not mistaken you were signed for two albums on Brutal Bands. Will your next release be on that label too?
We signed a deal for two albums in 2004 and we are negotiating about a third album right now. We are very satisfied with Brutal Bands, so I don't think there's a problem to work with them again for our next release!
Will you be touring in support of Reticulated? I know you had something planned with Disgorge, but that didn't work out or what?
We played in Tel Aviv, Israel last week and it was a blast. It's always cool to play for the first time in a country and discover the scene over there! We are also negotiating about playing in Greece and do a Polish/Czech tour and we'll play in Mallorca too. In 2007 we hope to continue the promotion for Reticulated with a European and a Mexican tour!
We had plans to tour with Disgorge early 2006, but it didn't work out. They pulled themselves out of the tour, leaving us and the tour promoters in a very uncomfortable situation and it was not possible to find a suitable replacement. We are always interested to hit some stages all over Europe and beyond, so if promoters want to hook us up they should get in contact with us at email@example.com. We are always looking for good shows and our conditions are reasonable.
Do you think it's in a live situation that the music really gets to stand the test whether it holds water or not?
Well, a live situation can be an interesting test for new material. The reaction of the crowd on new songs is always interesting to see. Like last year when we played a couple of new songs for the first time in Portugal, just after the recording of Reticulated. The reaction of the crowd was awesome and we had a blast over there. In a live situation you can also check if the line-up of the band is solid or not and we definitely can't complain about that.
Besides you, Aborted, Leng Tch'E and Prejudice I'm not that familiar with other Belgian bands. Is the death metal scene alive and kicking?
Well, there are some good bands in Belgium. The bands you mentioned, but also Axamenta, In-quest and a few others are doing great in Belgium and in Europe! There are a lot of death metal gigs in Belgium, but unfortunately the crowd isn't always present.
How does the remainder of the year look for Emeth?
Like I mentioned before we will hit the stage on several occasions this year, but we are also working hard on new songs. Emeth is also featured at the Face Your Underground Sampler 4 which is released in August. Besides Emeth there will be 24 other Belgian bands displaying what they are worth! From August you can check our merchandise section for CD's, shirts, DVD's and so forth.
Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks a lot for the interview. Check our website www.emeth.be for news on shows, merchandise, releases and more.