Interview: Mortify (2022) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Mortify

Is it possible to deconstruct the meaning behind the title Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow by explaining it in more simple terms and does that title in any way, shape, or form correspond with the front cover and narrative of the album?

M: As human beings, we are blind to the truth, we find ourselves in a constant search for knowledge and, therefore, we are empty entities with an infinite inner abyss trying to understand concepts such as life, death, reality, etc. That is why on the cover we see ourselves, beings blackened by the inner enigma trying to reach something, blind to the truth ˗ that is why they do not have eyes ˗ and hungry ˗ that is why they are jagged beings ˗ for acquiring that knowledge in order to understand our existence. The first three songs relate to this segment of the cover, up until Fragments, which serves as a transition ˗ the lyrics of In The Amorphous Path more literally exemplify the above. The next three songs, up until Edge, are oriented towards the middle segment of the cover, focused on that invisible edge towards us, an edge that we strive to overcome to obtain that knowledge that we yearn for. Finally, the last three songs, up to Sorrow, are focused on the left segment of the cover, towards that being on the other side of the edge, which has one eye and no teeth, that actually acquired knowledge, so it has no need to be hungry for it. Next to that being, there’s also a tree that represents the origin of knowledge, whose fruits are eyes that those blind shadows, that represent us, want to obtain in order to see and understand our reality. How to cross the border, acquire that knowledge, and transcend is something that is left to the interpretation of the listener.

The album unfolds following a certain path, but there’s no specific narrative to it since the journey through its various passages doesn’t entail a particular story. Visually, we tried to make the said route take place from the right side of the cover to the left side, where each chapter, consisting of three songs, is relevant to a specific segment of the cover. Finally, the title could be considered as the synthesis of the general concept, which is to overcome our uncertainty through the acquisition of something that does not exist for us, as explained in detail throughout the three chapters that constitute the complete album.

What made you feel that those short instrumentals would fittingly divide the album into separate chapters?

M: Fragments, Edge, and Sorrow are three instrumental pieces with a certain atmospheric touch that serve as closing and transition acts for each topic on the album. Each piece was conceived with a different and independent approach. For example, Fragments presents a greater orientation towards the use of ambient sounds in order to create an atmosphere that generates discomfort in a listener, representing the passage of the dispossession of the earthly towards something more ethereal or intangible. Edge, for its part, lies in the melancholy of being alone in a terrain unknown to our understanding, while Sorrow expresses the fear of understanding the unexplored and accepting it to become what we seek. For the same reason, at the end of the said theme, a reverse sound is heard, referring to the cycle starting again. Therefore, the structure of the album is situated in such a way that it travels from an earthly plane, passing through an intermediate space until arriving at a completely unknown place where everything ends, only to begin yet again.

Do you feel that those short instrumentals interrupt the dynamics of this album or actually add to it?

M: Our goal in adding small instrumentals in specific places on the album was to try to give context and more depth to the album’s concept, to somehow achieve a certain degree of immersion through various sounds and sound passages. The use of intermediate instrumentals was something that we tried on our first album and that, with this second LP, we wanted to expand upon. We also see it as a respite in the chronology of an album that generally dwells on the more extreme side, so we find the contrast between both paths positive, giving greater dynamism and without remaining in a single musical field.

Was the layer of keyboards in the second half of Fragments influenced by someone or something in particular?

M: The recording of our latest album was made and supervised by Anton Contreras, the vocalist and guitarist of the band Nebulos Aetrerum. Anton’s participation was quite relevant on this album, since his musical spectrum implies various external influences to those of Mortify, allowing us to acquire various nuances that otherwise we would not have included. His participation and signature are quite noticeable on the album, all the ambient sounds that can be heard and that generate that ethereal atmosphere are his authorship, as well as solo guitars in Edge and Mindloss. That said, since the second half of the album explores more metaphorical themes, to give greater coherence and emphasis to the attempts to cross our plane, we included those keyboard layers again. As a major influence, Testimony Of The Ancients played a relevant role in that decision, although Unorthodox by Edge Of Sanity was also another important influence.

Mortify Interview 2022 (Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow)

Are those creepy wooden creatures on the front cover perhaps a reference to the wood of the self-murderers from Dante’s Inferno?

M: This question is a pleasant surprise. Being totally honest, the concept of these creatures was not with the intention of referencing Dante’s Inferno, but thinking about it now, there are certainly similarities and the cover artist Julián may have possibly taken it as a reference for the drawing. Julián has worked with us since our first album and, ever since the beginning, we have been giving him only the general concept of what we are looking for, with him then making drawings without any limitation on our part. We have always appreciated his artistic input, as it tends to turn for the better what he tries to convey through the cover. In this particular case, Julián shaped these creatures in a very successful way and it is quite satisfying to see people reacting to it, since the intention for this album has always been for listeners to experience it from their own perspective.

How much of its quality this album owes to the fact that you were obviously in no rush while writing and recording it, considering that Mortuary Remains came out five years ago?

M: Indeed, there’s quite the distance between our first and second album, especially compared to our previous works that were coming out approximately every two or so years. That is something we want to return to. The composition and creation process of Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow was quite complex for various reasons, the first and perhaps most important one being that this new album had a different orientation than Mortuary Remains and did not feel as a continuation of that album. So in order to move forward, it was necessary for us to understand what we want to do and where we want to go. Once that was defined, we needed to devise the theme of the album, to support that theme through creation of the cover art, then to change the compositional structure of the songs towards a more progressive terrain, and lastly, to give sense and cohesion to the order of the songs. So, trying to make everything fit together and not neglecting any aspect of the album in its creation is what we believe brought greater musical quality to this new work compared to Mortuary Remains.

What would be the main difference between Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow and Mortuary Remains?

M: The attempt to create a concept album, where each element has the same importance and connection with each other. With Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow, we tried not to neglect anything in its creation process, since everything from the narrative, cover art, and musical composition was created from a general concept. With Mortuary Remains, it was rather the opposite. Different ideas were used that gave us greater freedom in a sense, to not limit ourselves to following a certain path. For example, Traces Of Disease deals with Peter Kürten and his addiction to blood, while Silent Existence covers themes more associated with depression and death. Although both songs are different in composition, they have a somewhat similar structure and are totally independent from each other. With Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow, we wanted a different approach, with In The Amorphous Path, for example, having a prominent death/doom vibe while conveying the inner emptiness of the human being, unlike Astrals Spheres From A Bleeding Soul that, on the other hand, contains a more frenetic tone and is a representation of a certain entity acquires infinite knowledge.

When you pick up a guitar, does music come easy to the surface of your consciousness or do you have to dive deep into yourself to find it?

M: The songwriting process in Mortify has always been quite curious, as we have never been able to create a piece of music by having a basic idea that we would then slowly develop. In our case, the state of mind and our headspace at any given moment directly influences our ability to compose. It is quite common that some of us pick up our instruments, start improvising, and an idea comes out that eventually becomes a song. Sometimes, it emerges easily from our consciousness and other times it takes a little more effort, but in any case, our songs go through a rather slow evolutionary process, since we are always adding or removing things until we find the right balance between what we are looking for and what the song needs so that it flows more organically.

Mortify Interview 2022 (Promo)

Do you make music to satisfy yourselves, first and foremost, and how much would a wider recognition and success, if they were to ever happen, change the way you feel about things in that regard?

M: Mortify started out as a need to find a place where we could express ourselves freely, release tension, and get away from situations that are not to our liking, a safe place where we could grow personally and have fun creating music. In that sense, music acts as healing for all of us, which is something that we remind ourselves of every day. Mortify started nine years ago, and the comfort and satisfaction of creating music for ourselves, without the need or pressure to stand out from the rest, has been keeping us moving ever since. Over the years, we have reached more ears, gained excellent presentation and opportunities, for which we have always been extremely grateful, but we have also persistently tried to keep a low profile that is consistent with the mindset we had when we first started.

Would it be fair to say that rendering the vintage death metal spirit into the contemporary context is one of the main ambitions behind Mortify?

M: When the band started, it started with a clear idea about the kind of music we wanted to play and which bands we wanted our sound to generate after. Clearly, at first, this was oriented towards a form of composition and ideas well rooted in the classic sound of iconic groups of the genre from the late ’80s and ’90s, however, as years went by, the new influences and ideas arrived, which allowed us to apply other options. This helps the band to constantly evolve. That said, at this point, we do not consider ourselves an old school death metal band, although it is true that Mortify base lies in bands associated with that type of sound. This does not mean, however, that we do not enjoy other styles within death metal or various other styles of music, but rather that our music is a way to express ourselves artistically in a comfortable and safe way under the eaves of bands like Death, Obituary, Gorguts, etc.

How difficult it is to put a personal spin on an almost forty years old genre by simultaneously obeying its basic principles and preventing the outcome of such efforts from sounding stale and irrelevant?

M: We believe that, in reality, the difficulty comes from the limitations that you impose on yourself as a band, so it can be quite relative from our point of view. It is undeniable that extreme music has been in constant evolution, but generally, there is a specific point that you can highlight within your own standards that generates a unique identity or that stands out. Mortify has never had as a priority to innovate within the genre or revolutionize it, but we do try to find that something that allows us to accentuate our music by giving it our own characteristic touch. When we set out and recorded Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow, our idea was to create a differentiating aspect from our first album Mortuary Remains, and not only by applying a new twist to the music, but rather on a whole field that it would involve, from composition, lyrics, and art. After reading several reviews and comments about the album, it seems that people feel we achieved the objective of generating a change with respect to the first album, with occasional comments that something is still missing or that we are halfway there. Those comments were absolutely respectable and we took them seriously, since it was extremely difficult for our vision to find a point of rest. We always yearn to go a little further without detaching ourselves from why we like to play death metal, and it’s hard to tell what will come out after Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow, given all this experience we acquired along the way.

Do you feel that there is something derogatory and disrespectful about the notion that bands like Mortify are merely a tribute to the past, completely devoid of identity?

M: Not at all. Although we don’t consider ourselves an old school death metal band, we understand very well that our compositional style shows an inclination towards that direction and that people could feel that we don’t contribute anything new to the genre. For our part, the style and sound of our music lies entirely in a way we express ourselves. All four of us in Mortify deeply value composing music in a sincere way, more than trying to be some new revelation. So, in general terms, whether a band is a tribute to the past or a breath of fresh air, it all depends on a personal taste and how that music makes you feel. It doesn’t really matter if you are on the classic or contemporary side, what matters is to express oneself in a sincere way.

Is disguising influences in music a virtue in and of itself, regardless of the quality of the actual music, that makes a band like Skeletal Remains intrinsically inferior to any band whose sound isn’t so firmly entrenched in a certain tradition?

M: If we talk originality, it is clear that Skeletal Remains, or any other similar band like ourselves, loses quite a few points compared to, for example, the recent works by Gorguts or albums like Spheres by Pestilence, but things are completely different if we talk composition or production quality. In general, everything depends on the point of view in which you evaluate the quality of a band and their musical direction. The best current example that reflects this standpoint is probably Blood Incantation. Their album Hidden History Of The Human Race was highly valued by various people all around the world, however, their latest EP Timewave Zero, that’s also excellent, has left more than one with a surprised expression. The EP presents quite a drastic change to their previous material in every way, it directly contradicts the death metal standards, but does that imply that Blood Incantation is superior or inferior to a band like Necrot that follows a more traditional path? Clearly not, as far as we are concerned, as both groups present different orientations in which they stand out.

Mortify Interview 2022 (Band)

What are some of the classic death metal bands and musicians whose sound and legacy molded Mortify into the band you are today? Also, what are some of the bands of your generation that spread audial darkness you can very much relate to?

M: In the beginning, we were heavily influenced by two bands in particular, Obituary and Exmortis from the US, especially by their EP Fade From Reality. Over the years we have incorporated other influences, bands like Gorguts, Edge Of Sanity, Disincarnate, Thanatos, Cynic, or Atheist, in order to add different ideas or points of view to our sound. Certainly, people like Luc Lemay or Dan Swanö have been among our greatest inspirations lately, given their exquisite vision of breaking the common and contributing in an incredible way to the development of death metal. None of this should detract from the legacy of Chuck Schuldiner, of course. As for the more current bands from our country, bands like Sadism, Totten Korps, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Feretro, Innana, Ancient Crypts, and Putrid Yell have had a great impact on us. The same goes for bands from other countries such as Ataraxy, Blood Incantation, Necrot, Skeletal Remains, and Question, that are among our favorites.

Joseph Curwen of Unaussprechlichen Kulten once said that in Chile there were more bands than audience, more magazines than readers, more metal labels than metalheads. Of course, he was exaggerating, but do you see where that notion comes from?

M: Joseph has been at this for several years now and must have had a pretty strong case for making such a statement based on his vast experience in the field. That notion was probably associated with the fact that it is common to see the same people organizing, performing, and attending in the Chilean music scene. It is likely that newer generations will lose interest in participating, given the ease of acquiring music these days, which means that generational exchange may be less expeditious than in the past. Still, the metal audience has grown in recent years, while the organization of events has remained a constant variable. The truth is that the life of each person sometimes changes considerably, which means that certain people remain constantly in the scene while others simply disappear. Having said that, the metal scene in Chile has always stayed afloat in some way or another, although it goes through times of crisis occasionally.

When you are listening to music as a fan these days, are you more likely to get lost in it and let the energy take over, or has that activity become more cerebral over the years, with your thoughts being more involved in that process than your emotions?

M: The way we listen to music these days has changed for everyone and the ease with which we discover complete discographies of various bands in a fairly short period of time has reduced the impact the music has on a listener. For that reason, we have always treated a musical product as a complete work of art. At home, we prefer to listen to vinyl in order to internalize the entire album without omitting songs, which means that we can enjoy it from start to finish, with all the emotions that the process entails. The manner in which one listens to music may impact the listening experience for the better or worse, but the emotions and feelings within a listener should prevail after all, since the feeling of listening to a certain record at the age of 12, for example, will likely stay with that person for the rest of their life.

Would you subscribe to the notion that eternity is hell and that everything that never ends becomes torture rather soon?

M: We have no clear answers to this questions, obviously. The notions of time, eternity, reality, life, or death are something that we cannot comprehend, and for that same reason we wanted our new album to make people find their own answers and meaning to these unknowns. All this is something that escapes our understanding. We are only certain that death is neither end nor a beginning, but a process in which every human being becomes a part of the unknown.

 

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