Thus Defiled singer and guitarist Paul C discusses the band’s new EP with ZT’s Paul Castles and explains why after 25 years this will almost certainly be the final hurrah for one of the UK’s most revered underground black metal outfits.

ZT: Hi Paul, thanks for keeping ZT up to speed with developments around the band. So what’s the thinking behind the new EP, A Return to the Shadows – although the name itself kind of gives the game away?
It’s really exactly that; to the darkness we return – whilst paying tribute to a few bands that inspired us back in the day.

ZT: The new EP has four covers and one new track. Tell us about the new song first please – ‘Armagedda in Rapture’. Is this a song that you’ve just put together recently? It’s certainly full of scorched savagery!
It’s actually about 10 years old believe it or not, and is the last track Paul F and I wrote together, so it’s fair to say we’ve not been overly prolific over the last decade! But it still has that great fusion of malevolence, aggression and darkness.

ZT: So the other tracks are all covers, how much thought did you put into selecting the four songs when there’s literally thousands of options you could have gone for?
This was, as you suspected, a really hard choice. The only rule we put in place was no black metal tracks. There is literally no point in covering something that is relatively close in terms of style. We quite easily narrowed it down at the start to a few bands that hugely influenced us as ravenous heavy metal kids way back in the day, but from there it became really hard. After much deliberation and arguing over many beers, we finally ended up with the selection you have on the EP. Part of the choice was picking songs we really thought would naturally suit a black metal reworking, and we think the end result came out really well. The lyrics were slightly reworked where necessary too to match the style of the band.

ZT: Are the four bands all special to you in some way?
Absolutely! All formed part of our heavy metal heritage, and all four of those bands were hugely influential and helped define their particular style of music.

ZT: A Return to the Shadows was recorded in Texas, with Tim Bartlett, an enjoyable experience? It must have triggered a few memories with Tim having worked with you on the Daemonspawn album.
Tim became something like a fifth member over the years, so it was an absolute no-brainer to work with him again. He’s also a huge fan of the early days of metal, so we had many a late night talking about the glory days over a few glasses of single malt. He totally understood what we were aiming for with the EP, and was also a big fan of the tracks we were covering which made the whole process really easy and natural.

ZT: When I saw the EP included a cover of ‘Creeping Death’ I was a little surprised but it’s fair to say your interpretation is scarcely recognizable from Metallica’s original version…
Haha, well, although we shaved over a minute off the duration, I actually don’t think it’s a million miles away from the original. Sure, it’s faster and more aggressive, but I think it still retains that classic Metallica feel. It wasn’t a case of “How fast can we do this?”, it was important to always feel like a classic cover, not a race to the end. It’s just been fused with a little fire and brimstone in our reworking.

ZT: You had some friends on board with Mike Browning (Nocturnus, ex-Morbid Angel) and Donn Donni (Vesperian Sorrow) – that must have made the whole exercise all the more fulfilling and enjoyable?
The first time we went to the USA we played in Austin, Texas with Vesperian Sorrow; we all got along really well and have remained friends ever since. When we were working on the ideas for the EP we thought it would be great for Donn to come down and join us in the studio and do some backing vocals as he lives fairly locally. We gave him the list of what we were covering, he picked the song he wanted to join us on and it worked really well.
As for Mike Browning, everyone that knows me knows that I think “Abominations…” is the greatest thing Morbid Angel ever did. And “The Key” from Nocturnus is also one of my favourite albums of all time. So, when we did Demon Seed I asked Mike when I saw him in London if he was interested in doing some backing vocals. I sent him the track when he was back home, and once he heard it he said he wanted to to the whole thing, so who were we to argue? He did an absolutely incredible job! It was an honour to have him involved on this recording.

ZT: So 25 years on since starting out, it’s time to call it a day, what are your emotions at this time?
It seems like a good time to officially close the grimoire. 25 years is a long time, although we’ve not been too prolific (to say the least) over the last few years. We like to think we’re finishing off in style, and also helping a great cause with this last release. We decided to get behind the Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund – the charity that Chuck Schuldiner was involved with. As we were covering a Death song, it seemed a fitting thing to do. So, we’re making it available as a free download and are just asking that if people are able, they make a donation, however big or small to this great charity.

ZT: With Thus Defiled now almost consigned to the annals of black metal history are there any plans to continue writing and performing music under a different platform?
Everyone in the band has been really busy over the last few years in other bands working on everything from death metal to dark cinematic ambient music. None of us are quite ready for the pipe and slippers yet!

ZT: And a final message for Thus Defiled’s legion of fans?
Thanks to all those that have supported us, banged their heads at gigs and shared a beer with us somewhere during those last 25 years! There will probably be a few rarities and some unreleased material coming along at some stage in the future, but nothing new will be written from here on.

Thanks for dropping in!

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