ZT INTERROGATION: AKEM MANAH ALLOW THE DEMONS TO SURFACE ONCE MORE
Dead Nedry, founder and frontman with occult-inspired Oregon trio Akem Manah talks death, doom and darkness with ZT’s Paul Castles and explains what lies behind some of the crushingly heavy songs on re-released albumDemons of the Sabbat.
Hi Dead, thanks for talking with Zero Tolerance. I’ve really been enjoying your album Demons Of The Sabbat. I know this was initially a self-release a couple of years ago but it seems the re-release has really gripped people’s imagination?
DN: Thanks. We had some good initial reactions in 2014 when it was originally released. And Possession Productions has helped get it back out there to a little bigger audience and it seems to be doing good.
ZT: I guess the interest generated this time around justifies the decision to re-release it, via Possession.
DN: It was originally set to be released with Possession Productions in 2014. But due to economic issues and turmoil around Russia, and the label being around that in their country of Belarus, it was just too hard to do it. So we released ourselves and then re-released with Possession this year.
ZT: Has the re-release altered in any way from the original version – has it been remastered and so on?
DN: It is the same, like mentioned above. We were unsure when it might have been released so just went ahead on our own. The album had been complete and ready to release almost a year before we released on my personal music label Freak Metal Records in August 2014. Things just got hard for them to release music for a bit so we stuck with them and waited until they could do a re-release of this album.
ZT: Demons of the Sabbat is nihilistic, atmospheric and chilling. Does it carry any particular theme?
DN: Akem Manah’s music always has a darkness to it. I always think of it as horror and try to incorporate elements to expand the sound for extra effect. I think going in to it, demonic possession, religious/cult rituals & death seem to be the main theme throughout. Kind of a theme for the band in general. Just the way my mind works when I write I guess.
ZT: Is your inspiration drawn from literature, movies, history – or a combination of all these elements.
DN: A little bit of everything really. History did have a little bit in this album. The song ‘Reign Of Terror’ is about Jack The Ripper, ‘Possession Of Nun’ is inspired by the Louviers witch trial possessions in 1647 France. Movies and other stories do play a part in our music. Songs inspired by writers like HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe have made appearances on older Akem Manah music. On Demons Of The Sabbat it was more, the history part and original creations, that may have some unintentional correlation with old 60s/70s horror films, but not directly inspired by.
ZT: The members of Akem Manah will be known to fans of White Zombie, Ramesses and Nile – just tell us how the three band members came together?
DN: Well really, I have lead this band since late 2009. After the second album Night Of The Black Moon (2012) I decided to keep this band going after the early two members left. Ivan de Prume is known for his drum work in White Zombie in the late 80s/early 90s and owns his own studio (Burningsound Studio here in Oregon) and does session work. I contacted him in May 2012 and we began work on the Demons album. He got me in contact with Chris Lollis to play bass who had recently left Nile and would soon begin fronting his old band Lecherous Nocturne for a bit. And I contacted Adam Richardson on the Ramesses Facebook page to do some vocals on the final song ‘Demons Rise’, which was actually the first song recorded for that album.
ZT: You’re all experienced musicians who have a good take on how the industry operates. I know initially the first release of Demons of the Sabbat was offered as a free download, via Bandcamp. Is that something you accept bands have to do thesedays when they are trying to effectively grow an audience?
DN: Actually the album was released on CD and digital through iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and other digital markets. Though we did / do run the album for free on Bandcamp from time to time. When not being a touring band and trying to get your name out there, free is a good way to grab peoples’ attention. Especially if an independent band. Plus I think running music for free can show appreciation to the fans, and shows you care enough about the music that you are willing to lose out on sales in order for people to hear it.
ZT: You’ve done a cover of Mayhem’s ‘Pure Fucking Armageddon’ – I guess that tells us a little about where your spiritual black heart is?
DN: Yes, this cover should be released soon with the upcoming single ‘From Hell They Ride’. A little different than the original, done more in our death/doom metal style (if that’s what you want to call it). Black metal has played a small part in Akem Manah’s music since the beginning, along with the doom and death metal genres. Darker music really does grab me. Just seems more interesting, stuff of occult, death and pure darkness. I think that my mind works well for this. Not being a religious person, I am not bothered by listening to it or writing about it. As soon as I start to write, this dark stuff about death, demons, occult, anti-religion or just horror comes out. Maybe I am a little bit crazy…
ZT: Your Twisted Rites EP also included a cover of Behemoth’s ‘Chant For Ezkaton 2000’. Is Nergal is someone who you have long admired?
DN: Around the time Akem Manah was formed, I started listening to Behemoth, starting with what at the time was their most recent album Evangelion. I try and stay true to me and not look to anyone else to follow. But I dig what Nergal’s writing, performing and share his ideas on religion. I have had the same ideas on religion and spirituality so that is why I think I connect in a small way to Behemoth. Plus they are a great band with great music. But I can say Behemoth has had an impact on my writing a bit and in a small way Nergal is in my head subconsciously while writing, along with the likes of Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) & Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard). I admire many, but I try never to duplicate. So doing a cover song is a way for me to show appreciation to those I enjoy.
ZT: Mayhem were forerunners of the black metal genre although your sound is probably closer to doom. Where did you see Akem Manah’s place within the metal spectrum?
DN: Definitely doom metal, with death metal influences. But we started very much doom and I write riffs very much in doom form. I tend to stay on the slow side, but a couple of newer songs being written now have a little more black metal sound to them. I think if there was one band to compare us to, it would be early My Dying Bride.
ZT: I know when the original line-up of Akem Manah came together around six years ago there were a few live shows – These seem to have dried up, why is this?
DN: After recording the first album in 2010. I moved away for work and thus we were not able to play due to the long distances between us. Last time we played was a small party in 2012 the night before we entered the studio to record the second album. Then after we released that album, drummer Brian and bassist Robert left for college & job reasons.
ZT: Are there any gigs/tours in the pipeline to promote Demons of the Sabbat?
DN: Right now, I live in a small town and not many people are into this kind of music around here and there are not really many venues for this either. I hope to soon be in a larger area to put together a full time line-up (or at least live/touring lineup) and begin playing live again. Hopefully before the release of the fourth album this fall.
ZT: There have been a number of line-up changes since the band was originally formed. Are you hoping for a period of greater stability now?
DN: Hopefully, but I don’t have a problem writing/recording like this right now. I handle vocals, guitar, bass & keyboards with Ivan doing drums. But once the time comes to play live, having a solid line-up would be good for sure.
ZT: Finally, do any of the three members of Akem Manah currently have any other musical projects on the go?
DN: Right now it is just Ivan de Prume and myself doing this Akem Manah thing. Ivan does session work at his professional studio in Salem, Oregon (USA) called Burningsound Studio, so he is recording bands and doing session work. Right now my main focus is Akem Manah. But I do work from time to time on my official solo project, Dead Nedry – which I have one album and one EP released so far (more hard rock / groove metal oriented). And I am always working on ideas for new musical projects (black metal, doom metal, drone, electronic, ambient) but nothing officially finished or released yet.
Don’t miss Paul’s review of Demons of the Sabbat in the next edition of Zero Tolerance.