Singaporean brutal death metallers Vrykolakas are currently hard at work writing the follow-up to last years Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone, an album I recently got the opportunity to review. It impressed me quite a bit so I approached the band some weeks ago regarding an interview. Vocalist Andy was quick to answer my questions about the band, the Singaporean scene as well as other things.

Andy interviewed by PSL

Vrykolakas has been around since the early nineties. How come it has taken so long to finally release an album?
Actually Vrykolakas was not active from 1992 to 1996 due to difficulties finding the right band members. The guitarist Kai was alone during that time and not many musicians found an interest in playing with us. It wasn't until 1998, that he found a complete line-up and Vrykolakas became active after that. Imagine four releases with different labels within 2000 - 2001. Then in 2003, we did a five way split CD on our own label and in 2004 we released our debut album Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone. Now we are preparing for our second album which hopefully will see the light of day in early 2006.

I hear some references to Incantation in your music, but which other bands have had an impact on your music?
Yeah, Incantation was our main influence. They play great and dark death metal. I've receive comments that my voice is similar to Craig Pillard's [former Incantation vocalist]. We are also greatly influenced by Nile and Grave. You can hear on our debut album that we used Arabic guitar's scales and a bit of Swedish old school death metal.

The material on Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone is it written to the album or made up of material from your demos?
Actually we've included both new and old tracks. We were not really satisfied with the sound of the old songs, so we re-record them to achieve a much faster and brutal feel.

Did you achieve the dark sound that you were aiming for when you recorded the album or are there things you would have changed in hindsight?
I would say we are satisfied with the dark feeling of the music, but not the sound. We love the old unpolished sound of old Grave and Incantation, but we want a more complete sound of all the instruments. The first album turned out as quite a disappointment. The vocals and drums are place way too low in the mix. On our new album we concentrate more on the quality of the sound, but without sacrificing the dark feeling of the music.

The lyrics are they centred on religion and hate towards religion?
It's up to people how they react to it. The lyrics are very deep. If people only read them once they might think we're pro-religion, but they really need to do a bit of research about the lyrics to find out more. I would say the lyrics are neutral as they are not about supporting religions or condemning them. The meaning of the lyrics is like mixing the bible and Necronomicon into one. Most of the songs are about belief and histories of the ancient Arabic beliefs.

You're about to enter the studio to record the follow-up to Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone. Could you say something about that?
Yep, we are busy rehearsing eight new songs for our second album Unleashing Vrykolakas upon Mankind. The songs are darker, more brutal, intense and also longer. There's quite a number of slow and dark passages mixed with the technically structures of the songs.

How would you say the new material differ from Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone?
I would say the difference is the sound quality. We have found a new studio where the engineer is also a death metal freak. He has recorded a few death and black metal bands before and I would say we are impressed with the sound quality. Also the structures of the music are more mature this time. Kai have composed some great and mesmerising riffs for the songs.

Are you going to release the new Vrykolakas album through your own Vrykoblast Productions?
We are looking for another label to release our stuff. Maybe if no good offer comes our way, we'll release it ourselves again. We have to wait and see till the time comes.

Do you have other releases coming out on Vrykoblast Productions or will it only be the new Vrykolakas album?
Nope. Vrykoblast Productions concentrate on other bands as well. Our first priority is to release brutal Asian death metal bands, but we're now open to other continents as well. We are still searching for suitable bands for our releases. There are a few possibilities of a new signing, but we have to wait and see. Hopefully there's a new signing in beginning of 2006.

Are any of you involved in other bands than Vrykolakas?
No, Vrykolakas is like my own, although I am not a founding member of the band. I will dedicate all my time with this band. There are basically no time for me to play with other bands as I am busy with my work, family, label and band.

How is the extreme metal scene doing in Singapore?
Pretty bad in general I would say. I think 80% of the metalheads here concentrates more on famous overseas bands than supporting the local ones. If your band name is not Morbid Angel, Immolation or Suffocation they wont buy your stuff. Imagine we sold or traded like only 10% of our CD's locally compared to like 90% overseas. Those who really support us, most of them ask for a free copy. We are quite pissed of with this as they think we are like the Red Cross organisation.

Do you get to play shows on a regular basis?
I would say we get invited to perform regularly, but we turn down most of the invitations due to our working commitments. The most memorable gig we performed was in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2005 as headliner. The crowd was great and we were supported by some great brutal death metal bands from Thailand. This year we've performed four times locally. We also don't want to play that many shows because the scene in Singapore is quite small and usually the venue of the gigs is the same. So we don't want to bore the fans with the same repertoire.

You don't really hear a whole lot about metal from Asia. Any thoughts on why that this?
Laziness to promote themselves [laughs]. Maybe financial issues play a major part in their promotion. We spend like a few thousands on promoting purposes like ads, compilations, promo copies to magazines, radios, labels and stuff. I understand why only a few Asian bands can promote themselves.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks Per for interviewing Vrykolakas. It was a real pleasure to answer your questions. Our first album Spawned from Hellfire and Brimstone is still for sale and for only $12 US [including postage], but we have only a limited amount of copies left. Also after 14 years the Vrykolakas first t. shirt. Get it or die!

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