Was naming the band after a Morbid Angel song a gesture of appreciation for that particular song, the band itself, or the idea of spiritual independence they were so convincingly conveying with their early albums?
Tomas: It’s been a damn long time ago, but if I’m not mistaken choosing that name for the band was a mutual decision. First off, we thought it sounded cool and that it could be interpreted in many ways without forcing you into any kind of narrow music genre box, and yes, we were all fans of Morbid Angel as well, but I think it was more about the actual phrase and its meaning than about paying a tribute to them.
One could argue that, with such a moniker, it’s not a matter of choice anymore, that you simply need to operate within a certain frame style-wise.
Tomas: Not really. I don’t see any limitations considering our band name. We were never meant to be a tribute band, even in the beginning. We are focused on what we do, not what others did or will do.
Would it be fair to assume that the title of this album has personal connotations, that it reflects your own religious sentiments?
Tomas: Yes, in a way. I don’t see any of the values declared by all kinds of religions materializing, very often pretty much the opposite.
Could you elaborate on how and where the front cover image and the album title intersect?
Tomas: I think the front cover is perfectly in line with the lyrics, showing a dismal side of faith, redemption that’s not happening ˗ that’s how we see it. It’s a great mystery to me why, in the 21st century, there are so many people still building their lives around ancient myths, no matter which ones.
Do you see Darkness Of God as a natural evolution compared to Denouncing The Holy Throne or as a completely different beast altogether? Are there more things between those two albums that bind them together or that set them apart?
Tomas: I personally feel that Darkness Of God is a natural step in the evolution of Heaving Earth. We didn’t burn any bridges with the past, but I’ve felt that we achieved pretty much everything we wanted with the traditional death metal form. It was time to move forward, to build on a base created with Denouncing The Holy Throne, and look for new fresh ideas.
Have you ever been so satisfied with a certain riff or arrangement of a certain song, that you were close to letting it unfold as an instrumental piece, without lyrics to spoil the graceful feeling of the music?
Tomas: With certain riffs or arrangements, for sure. If there’s enough content already and nothing else can bring any more value music-wise, then it’s time for a vocalist to take a break. With songs as a whole, not really. We have an instrumental track on the new album though, Earthly Kingdom Of God In Ruins, but I wrote that one on purpose.
How would you describe your music in two or three words, if you were to be simultaneously vague and specific as possible, all at the same time?
Tomas: Intense, complex, diverse.
Almost fifteen years into your career, would you dare to say that you have now become one with the energies you present and represent through your music, or are you still in the soul-searching phase?
Tomas: I would say we’re one with the creative spirit and you should hear a clear continuity of ideas in our possible next works. Anyway, searching for the meaning in music is something that should be a perpetual process ˗ if you’re not actively looking for a meaning or expression, then you’re probably stagnating and should reconsider your involvement in music.
Do you see technical death metal and death metal that is technical as two different things, and which of the two Heaving Earth has more in common with in your opinion?
Tomas: I think that linking the word technical with death metal is more or less random these days with so many people thinking about different stuff. I personally do not feel any ties to bands playing hyper technical heavy or speed metal with blast beats and some death metal vocals. I don’t even value the word technical much, to me Heaving Earth is a pure death metal band. Period.
What is the trait that makes the band immediately recognizable in your opinion, and is there even such a trait? Do you like to think that it’s impossible to mistake you for another band?
Tomas: I do believe that we have our own touch and style that’s distinct enough to be recognizable among other bands, but if some other people see it differently, I can live with that. Although immediately recognizable is perhaps too bold of a statement. In general, I’m not that much comfortable serenading or judging my own work.
That’s interesting, because musicians are usually extremely critical of their work.
Tomas: What I meant to say is that I don’t spend that much time looking back on what I’ve done and recorded in the past. But, of course, I’m my biggest long-term critic and that’s partly a reason why it took us so long to release this album. It took me years to finalize some songs, I’ve thrown away a handful of guitar riffs and arrangements, and even a whole song, that I’m glad I never presented to other band members.
Given the current disposition of your music, do you see the band eventually evolving beyond the confines of death metal, into uncharted territories that are perhaps more akin to progressive metal?
Tomas: I do see Heaving Earth evolving, but that evolution will always be within the spirit and expression of death metal. In general, the matter of death metal and its borders is debatable, I guess we can all agree that death metal can be defined by certain instrumentation and expression, but besides that, it is an open space for creativity, at least for me.
The credo many novel writers stick to is that one should read to fill the mind and then write to empty it. Do you feel that the same reasoning applies to music? Do you perhaps operate that way as a band?
Tomas: Not really. I don’t think music serves as a drain to get rid off some ideas and empty your mind, it’s more of a creative process that builds something that will stick with you, so pretty much the opposite in my opinion.
Would you subscribe to the notion that, together with liberating and anti-authoritative sentiments, humor and intellectualism also comprise the symbolism behind the idea of the devil?
Tomas: As a strict atheist, I don’t care much about the symbolism of the devil. In general, it all seems questionable to me, because the idea and meaning of the devil have been evolving through centuries. But I definitely agree with the notion that humor in particular is a liberating force and stands against all forms of oppression and stinking ideologies, that’s why so many ideologists and know-better assholes are targeting comedians these days. Intellectualism I would rather replace with education ˗ in my life I’ve met a few students of philosophy that were talking complete and utter garbage, so I prefer education over being a smartass.
When you feel like listening to heavy music, do you prefer revisiting the classics of the genre rather than checking out new bands?
Tomas: It depends on my current mood and if some of my friends suggested me to listen to something new, that I would possibly like. I do both, but most of the time I do listen to genres other than metal. I’ve been listening to extreme metal genres for so long that it’s quite hard to find something new and exciting, but as a musician, I simply like music, so I can listen to and be influenced by a variety of music genres… And always come back to the spheres of extreme metal.
Which of your recent record purchases do you consider particularly valuable?
Tomas: Choose Your Weapon by Hiatus Kaiyote.
We all prostitute ourselves on so many levels every single day and compromise our dignity, beliefs, and integrity in desperate attempts to survive and improve our social, financial, professional, or any other status. Do you ever think about this and do those thoughts affect the way you feel about yourself?
Tomas: Yes, we make compromises in our daily lives, that’s how it works. For the last couple of years, I’ve been having this job that doesn’t pressure me to cripple my character or force me to forget that I used to have one, which is a good thing. Still, it’s a job, so you can’t be honest all the time, but yes, you gotta deal with how life works or you can go fuck yourself, that’s how it is. I’m pretty easy about it.
When you wake up in the morning, how long does it take for the band to cross your mind? Is Heaving Earth one of the most important things you have going on in your life?
Tomas: Heaving Earth is for sure one of the most important things in my life, but in the morning I’m just glad to wake up without feeling dizzy and so on. It’s more of a pills time when you’re 40 plus years old, no joking. Time for jamming, practicing, songwriting, or active listening usually comes in the late afternoon and evening. I’m much more productive in the late hours than in the morning.
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