ZT INTERROGATION: NECRONAUTICAL UNLEASH A SYMPHONY OF BLACKENED TREASURES
Necronautical frontman Naut tells ZT’s Paul Castles about the band’s commanding new album The Endurance At Night, how the north west extreme metal outfit came to sign for Cacophonous Records, and where they feel they sit within the current UKBM scene.
ZT: Your new album The Endurance At Night features some ferocious stuff. You must be excited about it? Of course we are, The Endurance… as with all of our music has been a labour of love, a piece of work we as a band feel truly proud of and put our all into. For this work to be released by the legendary Cacophonous Records is tremendously exciting for us, a very proud accomplishment.
ZT: How long have you been working on these songs?
Some of the riffs and ideas have been floating around for many years, but the bulk of the songwriting took place in the winter between 2014 and 2015. From this point we spend much longer developing the lyrics, themes, keyboards and atmospheres… we take a lot of time to experiment with these ideas once the body of the music is established. So between writing and completion these songs probably took just over a year, between other commitments of course.
ZT: Just give us an insight into your approach, as in who does what in terms of writing the lyrics and music? Myself (Naut), Carcarrion and Anchorite all contribute music and ideas, although in the case of the new album it would be fair to say that I wrote the majority of the music, all the orchestration and everything like that…. whereas Anchorite took the lead with the lyrics and concepts and Carcarrion took charge of the artwork, visuals and that kind of stuff. We work collaboratively on all of these aspects of course, but things seemed to fall into place in that way in this instance. We’ve begun writing our third album now and there’s a lot of great riffs from Carcarrion, so I think next time we’re going to be writing collaboratively again… there’s no fixed process, we simply play to our strengths and so long as the songs are taking the direction we want, there are no rules to our approach… though I will admit I can be something of a control freak!
ZT: Did you set out with any particular theme or concept when writing the album?
Yes, as with our first record we devised a loose concept for the music… these ideas usually involve some sort of natural disaster, an event where nature dominates and destroys humanity… though these ideas are usually a conceptual framework for us to explore human emotions, spiritual and existential questions, rather than simply writing about the event. For The Endurance… we wanted to explore the fragility and futility of all that we (as humans) know when contrasted to the infinite expanse of space and time… and so the initial concept was the inevitable death of our world, and so the artwork depicts an eclipsed moon freezing a tattered earth, and bizarre gravitational forces pulling the roots of the earth towards the stars, whereas the lyrics examine these kinds of abstract experiences on a human and spiritual level. We like to work to concepts but we are not writing concept albums in the traditional sense, we use these ideas to give unique context to the natural emotions (whatever they may be) that are present in the songs.
ZT: Where was the album recorded and did things run smoothly in the studio? The album was recorded by myself in my home studio, thus far this is how we’ve preferred to create all our work, it allows us to take time to let the songs grow as we record them, rather than to commit fully to the ideas once they are recorded. Having perfect or clean sounding production is not of paramount importance to us, instead we aim to work within our means to create a unique atmosphere… and this is something I like to do at the mixing stage, as well as with the writing, there are always aspects of the production we like to keep within our own hands. The album was mastered from its stems by the brilliant Samuel Turbitt at Ritual Sound UK, and his finishing touches really bought our ideas to life and gave the album a great sound. I think next time we will be using more professional studios for our drum and guitar sounds, we will see. The recording was time consuming but everything went smoothly and we had a great time creating this record.
ZT: Musically, how does this compare to your previous 2014 release, Black Sea Misanthropy?
I believe this new record expands outwards from all the musical directions established on Black Sea. In my opinion the new album is broader, more emotional and more powerful. We used a lot more symphonic elements on the new record than we did on the first, as well as using more melody in certain vocal refrains, at the same time this new record is in more of a black metal vein, whereas the first exhibited a lot of death metal tendencies as well. When we’re writing we prefer to go with the kind of sound that is coming naturally, so it is probably born from the kinds of music we are listening to at the time, and the ways in which we’re exploring our instruments… we’re not afraid to redefine our direction, if it feels right we do it.
ZT: You’ve made a fantastic video for the track ‘Nihilarkitel’ – Good fun to make? Thankyou. Yes this video was a great project for us! Again it was something of a DIY project, directed by Carcarrion with the help of our good friends James Johnson (director of photography) and Chris Casket (post production and editing). We really enjoy the visual aspects of this project, gathering the props necessary and devising the overall look and feeling of the video was a really enjoyable challenge for us, and we were really pleased with the way the video came together.
ZT: How did the relationship with Cacophonous Records come about?
We had distributed our first record through Mordgrimm, which is run by the same people who would later revive Cacophonous. They loved the concepts and music from our first record, and so when we announced we were working on our next, we were contacted and signed to the resurrected Cacophonous coven… a great opportunity that we weren’t expecting and were very glad to accept of course. We maintain a great working relationship with the guys at Cacophonous and we couldn’t be happier with how things are going between ourselves and the label, they are doing great things for UKBM right now.
ZT: What tour plans are in place around the new album?
We are soon to announce a UK tour in November to promote The Endurance. Next year we are confirmed to play Eradication Festival in Cardiff and hope to make some more festival appearances in 2017 also, as well as further touring.
ZT: Is playing live something you all look forward to?
We can’t wait to finally return to the stage this year, to present our new music on stage is going to be great fun for us. We hope to venture to new areas and expand our fanbase as much as we can.
ZT: Do you feel the UK Black metal scene is currently experiencing something of a renaissance?
I think that would be fair to say, but maybe it is not only in the UK. I kind of feel like Black Metal music has resonated with a younger generation, people are keen to explore the underground and the genre lately has taken some really interesting and diverse directions… The scene in the UK is thriving right now, there are a lot more bands active in the genre than there ever were before. I think to an extent this black metal ‘renaissance’ is present not only in the UK but across many countries, some of the stuff I’ve heard from Poland and America lately as well as the UK has been some of the most forward thinking and exciting takes on Black Metal music that I have heard in many years. I think maybe on an international level UKBM has been disregarded, with only a handful of bands gaining wider acclaim, now it feels as though all of that could be changing. The UK scene is very diverse, there’s stuff I love and stuff I despise, but that of course is its strength. What is most important is that artists take their own directions in the genre, and there’s a lot of that going on right now.
ZT: What bands would you say have left their mark on you?
Too many to list, but if I speak on behalf of us all in Necronautical and list only a small few then I would cite these major bands; Emperor, Immortal, Dissection and Watain. I mention these because we all saw these legendary bands at the time when we were getting into this genre of music, that feeling of discovery and excitement when black metal music first captures you, I believe it stays with you, and the experience of seeing those bands in particular is certainly something that will always keep them as primary influences upon what we’re doing musically and even onstage. They were very powerful shows I cannot forget. Of course as individuals we listen to a wide variety between ourselves and so I think these outside influences from classic rock, goth, glam metal, power metal have also made an impact on what we’re doing, as well as film score, baroque and medieval styles… these influences aren’t primary but they certainly get alluded to between ourselves when we’re working. Some perhaps unexpected influences on The Endurance… could be stuff like Enya, Fields of the Nephilim or Danny Elfman’s work on Edward Scissorhands as much as it was inspired by all things brutal and extreme. The juxtaposition between beauty and brutality is something we like to work with for sure.