ZT INTERROGATION: PHOBOCOSM’S NEW ALBUM WARMS TO CLIMATE CHANGE CATACLYSM
Phobocosm guitarist Samuel Dufour tells ZT’s Paul Castles about the Montreal death metallers formidable new album, Bringer of Drought, and why the slow passages carry just as much weight as the more conventional DM attacks.
ZT: Hi guys, thanks for talking with Zero Tolerance. I’m impressed with the new album, Bringer of Drought, just give us an insight into it? Thanks for the interview, Paul. Bringer of Drought is the next step in our initial vision of what we want to accomplish with Phobocosm. Deprived was very chaotic, but on Bringer of Drought, we wanted to crush the people and to basically take them on a dark journey where there is no hope.
ZT: What does the actual album title represent or mean? The ‘Bringer of Drought’ is a personification of the inevitable end that awaits humanity through climate change and the over exploitation of natural resources. The album’s lyrical content can be read like a story and it develops with each song, from the initial cataclysm followed by the collapse of society to the last survivors’ agonizing end.
ZT: In terms of the songwriting process, how do Phobocosm operate? I usually come up with the bulk of the riffs and the basic drum beats for most songs and then we work on it together until all of us are entirely satisfied with them. Our singer then writes the lyrics and bass line. All of our songs go through a long process of filtering and fine-tuning during which we might get rid of riffs or sections that we change with something better. We even scrap full songs sometimes. We keep listening to the songs after they’re done to make sure that everything stands the test of time. We want to avoid at all costs to be stuck with stuff we don’t like on the album once everything has been sent to the label.
ZT: Were there any unexpected problems in the studio or did things come together as you had anticipated? Overall, the recording process for Bringer of Drought was a lot smoother than when we recorded Deprived (2014). However, due to a time constraint, I had to re-record a song really late in the process, but it wasn’t that bad this time around. Coming up with the final mix was a little more complicated than we had planned, but it was to be expected since we’re perfectionists and we feel it was worth it.
ZT: The opening song ‘Engulfing Dust’ is a real powerhouse but one with a very methodical sound that just kind of stomps along – not necessarily what you’d expect from a death metal band. We like to open our albums with a doomy song because we want to create a slow, hypnotizing build-up which then enables us to play with the listener’s mood when we switch to faster tempos and also when we go back to slower, darker, crushing moods. As you may have noticed, both our albums start slow and end slow. This is not a coincidence. We always make sure there is a build-up on our albums because we don’t want them to be just a collection of songs. We want to find the perfect pacing so that the listener is totally absorbed in our music.
ZT: ‘Tidal Scourge’ has a much more energized tempo – do you enjoy mixing the styles in this way? Absolutely. Except for the opening songs on both our albums, none of our songs are either 100% fast or 100% slow. We like to add dynamics in our songs by experimenting with tempo changes and by using more than one mood per song. This is something that can be heard on both our albums and we also intend to keep doing this on our future material.
ZT: Was there a conscious decision to move away the more conventional DM such as on your debut album? Part of it was intentional, but the songs mostly came out this way and therefore dictated the album’s overall direction, so it mostly happened naturally. The material on Deprived was written a long time ago, so when we started to work on what would become Bringer of Drought, a lot of water had passed under the bridge. Inevitably, new influences and new hardships had an effect on our songwriting. We will always be first and foremost a death metal band, but it’s no coincidence that doom elements have been more and more in our sound since the band’s inception because we are fans of slow, crushing, depressive music.
ZT: You’ve been busy with the The Plague Descends Upon The East tour – how did things all go? The tour was perfect in all regards. We were very lucky to do our first tour with such killer bands as Mitochondrion and Auroch and we’ve been treated really well everywhere we’ve been. A lot of people showed up to almost every single show, even on weekdays. We certainly did not expect things to go this well on this first tour. We have just announced our second, a month-long tour in November with Ulcerate, one of our favorite bands, and we can only hope that things will go just as well, not that we’re really worried at all about that.
ZT: What’s the response been to the new material? The overall response has been very positive so far. Most people seemed to have already figured out that that’s where we were going musically and they embraced the evolution of our sound. Some people seem to prefer the dissonant death metal that was characteristic of Deprived, but most people seem to like Bringer of Drought just as much if not more than the first one so it’s all good.
ZT: Do you expect to be taking part in any of the big summer festivals? We haven’t received any offers yet and we’re not so sure our music is suited to be performed on an outdoor stage, but if the right opportunity comes, who knows, maybe we’ll consider it. It’s just not that interesting when you realize you’ll probably end up playing dark death metal in broad daylight.
ZT: What aspirations do you have for Phobocosm, in terms of the levels of success you can attain? We’ve already had the chance to accomplish a lot of the goals that we set for ourselves when we formed eight years ago, but there’s still a lot of things that we would like to do, like touring Europe, and playing with some other bands that we like for instance Dead Congregation and Immolation. We would also like to release our third album by the end of 2017 and tour Europe at some point.
ZT: Many thanks for talking with Zero Tolerance – Finally, can you just tell us a little about the current extreme metal scene in your home city of Montreal? The Montreal scene has always been and still is very healthy, especially the technical death metal scene. Unfortunately, there are very few bands that prefer to rely on atmosphere and darkness instead of speed and technique, but things are starting to change a little bit, just not quickly enough for us. Check out Chthe’ilist if you don’t know them, they’re one of the best dark death metal bands from Montreal.