ZT INTERROGATION: WITHERING SOUL LAY THEIR TAROT CARDS ON THE TABLE
ZT speaks with Krystofer, founder member of atmospheric Chicago crew Withering Soul, about their haunting new album Adverse Portrait.
ZT: Thanks for taking time out to talk with Zero Tolerance readers. Congratulations on your new release, Adverse Portrait. How pleased are you with it?
Thanks for having us! We’re actually very excited about all the positive feedback we’ve been getting. We put in a little more experimentation this time, such as new guitar layering techniques and some unique synth sounds. I always experience what I call “post mixing stress disorder” where I go through the mental torture of wondering how we could’ve or should’ve mixed the album differently, but I can say there’s not a lot of regret this time [laughs].
ZT: Was the approach in any way different from your previous album, No Closure?
We were going through some line-up changes during the recording process, so I ended up playing all the guitars, bass, and synths. We wanted to explore some new ideas and styles, but keep it relevant to No Closure. The music still has a dark symphonic undercurrent, but not as blatant. We also chopped down some of the song structures to keep the album moving along more smoothly.
ZT: Songs like ‘No Longer Within’ catch you out, starting with the aggressive gruff vocals style but also containing some almost monastic chanting – is this mix something that sets Withering Soul apart?
For that song, we actually brought in a guest vocalist, Steve Sagala (ex-Enforsaken). He traded off on the “gruff” vocals with Mykil and can be heard on the higher octaves during the clean “chants”. Steve definitely added an element to the song that we would not have realized on our own.
ZT: The songs have a really big atmospheric and sinister feel. What kind of emotions are you trying to engage with?
Thanks. We’ve always been huge fans of classic horror movies and literature. Musically, we want the listener to feel like they’re in the middle of one of those stories. The type of songs that build suspense and alter the mood of the listener will always be the ones that resonate with you the most afterwards.
ZT: The new album sleeve is really interesting. Who’s responsible for it?
The album art was designed by Pierre-Alain D. We looked at a lot of artists, but his work had a very somber, yet creepy vibe. Going with Pierre was a no-brainer.
ZT: Can you just briefly tell us a little about the band’s background. Have you all been friends for some time?
Mykil and I formed the band in 2000 and recorded a few demos. After going through a revolving door of different members, we eventually recruited our good friend Rick to play drums and Scott on guitar. Our friend Nenad (ex-Rosengard) also recently joined us on bass. We couldn’t be any happier with our current line-up.
ZT: You’ve got an official album launch party in your home city of Chicago, with a few other bands. What’s the underground scene like over there at the moment?
Chicago is pretty much a death metal city. There are a lot of killer bands here, but the scene can also be very cliquey. Playing the style of music that we play, we haven’t always been able to fit the conventional mould that some would expect, but we’ve had the privilege of being on a greater variety of shows.
ZT: Can you tell us a couple of bands that perhaps have influenced your own work?
When Withering Soul started out, we were inspired by the many great European doom, death, and black metal bands releasing music during the late 90s and early 2000s. It was always our objective to not follow one specific genre, but to bring together certain traits that made each genre awesome.
ZT: Are any of you working with any other bands or is all your time taken up with Withering Soul?
Rick plays guitar in a death metal project called God Dementia with ex-Reign Inferno members. Scott plays guitar in a progressive metal band called A Minds Divide, while Mykil sings in a stoner rock/doom band called Dizmal Daze with members of Trouble, Disinter and Cold Bearded Killers.
ZT: What tour plans have you got for the new album? Any European dates?
We’re planning a small domestic tour for October/November. Nothing slated for Europe yet, but we’re exploring all available options.