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Azarath is een oudgediende in de Poolse death metal scene, een scene die internationaal toch goed meetelt met bands als Vader en Behemoth. En daarover gesproken, meest in het oog springende muzikant in de band is Inferno, die tevens bij het Poolse monster Behemoth drumt. Pas geleden kwam het nieuwste album uit ‘In Extremis’, waarop de band liet horen qua stijl niet veranderd te zijn, maar vooral gegroeid is in die old style death metal met een duister sausje. Lords of Metal stelde de vragen, en op één specifieke vraag aan Inferno na, beantwoordt gitarist Bartomiej 'Bart' Szudek al onze vragen over het nieuwe album, de split met zanger/guitarist Necrosodom net rond de release van het nieuwe album, diens nieuwe vervanger en de plannen voor zomer en najaar 2017: 2017 wordt keihard een Azarath-jaar.

Door: Neithan | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Congratulations on your sixth album ‘In Extremis’. I think it is pretty much a must in 2017 for fans of the blackened Polish death metal bands and the old school US death metal. How would you describe the key vibe of this album to the readers of Lords of Metal?
Bart: Thanks. Music on the new album is natural reflection of us at the moment where we and our thoughts are. Our genre is death metal. We grew up listening US death metal like early Morbid Angel, Immolation, Deicide, as well as European like Sinister for example but also black metal bands like Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost to name a few. And I think that In Extremis’ vibe is unholy death metal, like we always name it.

On what element on this album did you have the hardest work: in other words, what was the hardest part of ‘In Extremis’ to get it the way the band wanted it?
Bart: The hardest work is always in mixing and mastering process. For this album, before final mixing, we’ve tried three different studios with three different people to do one song premix. And then listening carefully to their work with this song we chose Haldor Grunberg/Satanic Audio as the person who will handle the final mix. And we are very satisfied with the final mix and mastering of the album. We do like the sound of 'In Extremis'. We always knew what we want, how the album should sound, and Haldor Grunberg fits our expectations perfectly.

There have been six years between ‘In Extremis’ and its predecessor ‘Blasphemers' Maledictions’, which is more than there was in between the previous albums. Is there a specific reason that it took a bit longer than usual to come up with a new album?
Bart: No specific reason. We are an independent band, working under any pressure and it’s very comfortable. We record just in proper time when all music is ready to go and we are 100% satisfied with that. We started recording in March 2016,and mixed and mastered the album in November 2016, so there is 5 years between recordings process. And when almost all was done we started to look for a label, so the release date was 2017

What is to Azarath the most important growth compared to ‘Blasphemers' Maledictions’, apart from the fact that this ‘In Extremis’ is indeed, as the title suggests, a bit more extreme?
Bart: Maybe it’s a bit more extreme than ‘Blasphemers' Maledictions’ but we had much more extreme albums before, so it’s not the point. The album title refers to the front cover painting and lyrics as well. Speaking about growth I think that we are still developing in songwriting.

Most of the people you worked with for ‘In Extremis’ are from Poland, yet producer Haldor Grunberg sounds like he is from Sweden, and I must say I did not know his name before from any big release. How did you get in touch with him and why was he the right man for the job?
Bart: He’s from Poland too :) Haldor Grunberg is just a nickname. Inferno met him while they were touring Poland some time ago and Haldor’s band THAW supported Behemoth on that tour. Later on we’ve heard some of his mixes, Inferno talked with him and we’ve decided to propose him to do a premix of one song. And as I said above his premix was the one we recognized as the most potential.

It could be just my mind, and in the review I mention it as 'spielerei': is it just me, or did you on purpose put tiny parts of classics in your music? For instance, there is a part in opener ‘The Triumph Of Ascending Majesty’ that reminds me of a classic Mayhem song…
Bart: We don’t put any parts, but of course you can hear something from the classics because we are big fans of that music and almost everything has been said and discovered in black/death metal. For example the ending vocals on ‘Slain God’ could remind you vocals on Mayhem 'Grand Declaration of War'. One riff on ‘Into the Nameless Night’ song is tribute to Jeff Hannemann.

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Quite a surprise: just after releasing ‘In Extremis’, there was a statement on the Facebook site that Azarath and vocalist Necrosodom/Marek parted ways in mutual consent: it must have been a surprise, as it happens just after the release of the album… What happened, it is all so sudden?
Bart: It has not happened suddenly. You cannot follow if both sides argue in key issues and it doesn’t work how it should. So the split up was the best solution for us.

At this year’s Inferno festival in Norway as Lord Kaos of Nekkrofukk on vocals and Witek Ustapiuk of Thunderwar on guitars.Do you already have an idea for the spot guitarist/vocalist in the near future, or or you still working on that?
Bart: As it was really short time before Inferno festival we had to find solid and decent replacement very quickly. So we asked people we know personally very well and they agreed and did great job. But is was just line-up for this particular festival. At the same time we were looking for future replacement. And finally (mid May 2017) we joined forces with Martin 'Skullripper' from Embrional who will handle vocals and guitar from now on and he will play all the gigs we have scheduled so far. Further decisions will be taken after first touring cycle of 'In Extremis' is completed.

So, right after the departure of Necrosodom and just before the official release of ‘In Extremis’ you had to perform at one internationally acclaimed shows: the Inferno festival in Norway. How did that feel?
Bart: We were agreed to play some festivals with Necrosodom still, but as he deicided to give his statement earlier we had to change plans and look for replacement quickly. But finally all was good and we will play all shows since Party San with new member mentioned above.

Eyecatcher of the band is of course drummer Inferno, the man behind the insane blast beats. Yet live you have to use another drummer because of Inferno’s obligations with Behemoth. What drives a man to work for more than 20 years on another band that also plays extreme death metal, be it in another style, instead of for instance playing some complete different style of metal?
Inferno: The answer is very simple. This kind of music is not only work but pure passion. It is also addictive to play, listen, compose black/death metal and live like that.

With a drumming machine like Inferno as sole remaining founder of the band: how hard is it for the live drummers to fill in the spot?
Bart: You should ask them :) In our opinion Stormblast or Adam Sierzega, who both are our live drummers interchangeably, fill the live spot in great way! They are very experienced and talented drummers!

So far I see the Party San show in August where fans can see Azarath live: any more shows that you can confirm, or at least that you are working on a tour (if so, approximately where and when)
Bart: Yes, we are working on European tour in Sepember and then Polish tour Sept/Oct.

The meaning of an interview is to support the new album, so… Why does every fan of extreme metal have to buy ‘In Extremis’?
Bart: I don’t like to persuade anyone to buy the album sight unseen. Everyone can check the album via official album stream through Agonia Records channel and then deicide.

Is there anything about ‘In Extremis’ or Azarath that we have not asked in the questions, but that you wish to mention about band and new album? If so, here’s your chance!
Bart: We should mention artists who worked on graphics for 'In Extremis'. Front cover painting was created by Marta Prominska / Hypnagogic Painting. Lyrics calligraphy was made by Ihasan Art, Pentacranium graphic by Holy Poison Design, photos y Oskar Szramka, some other graphics and the whole layout was prepared by Qras/Mentalporn. All of them did amazing job and whole album layout looks perfect!

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