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Zealot Cult | Interview


Things are looking good for Limerick’s death metal elite, Zealot Cult.

They’ve recently released their second demo, ‘Karmenian Crypt’, and it sounds as vigorous and violent as their first demo from some six years back.

It’s been enhanced by a richer, deeper production, a more distinctive vocal style and more consideration put into varying the pace and playing more with mood and atmosphere.

It sounds monstrous yet – it’s crafted with memorability in mind.

While the band might insist that their heads are stuck in a by-gone era, this three song recording sounds as fresh and relevant as any other band currently operating in the death metal underground.

I caught up with guitarist Mick and guitarist/vocalist Jaye to get the low down on why it has taken so long for this recording to materialise and they bare tidings that bode really well for the band’s future.

***

Subconscious Influence

Your new EP, ‘Karmenian Crypt’ has recently been released and seems to show a slightly more multi-faceted entity than was apparent on the debut. Or at least it touches on a few new bases.

It has taken a good few years to get this new recording out so how has your approach altered when writing?

Were you aiming specifically to mix it up a bit more or was it a natural development? And what took you so long?

Mick: ‘Initially, we started writing songs and preparing material to record back in 2013 which eventually fell by the wayside.

We also lost our old bass player Conor, so we decided to start a new project which was a bit more experimental for us, it had keys, clean vocals, in general the music was different for us.

Alan Lee had joined us at that stage so we started writing again. In total we had about four songs but then we realized that it was death metal that we loved playing so we scrapped that material too and started Zealot Cult again, writing all new material.

We all grew up listening to all the old Florida death metal scene, Morbid Angel, Death, Obituary, Deicide etc so it’s part of our DNA musically, so that’s how the material for ‘Karmenian Crypt’ came about as it was such a massive part of our influences and came through almost subconsciously’.

What ideas are you working with thematically here? Is there an overall concept going on or is it three separate stories?

I get a sense that the lyrics are as mired in the old school ways as the music but where do you go to for inspiration?

Jaye: ‘In regards to lyrics, there’s no overall concept per se, thematically; it varies from song to song. For example, the title track deals with the darker side of life, personal beliefs, “Eternal Winter” is about war whereas “Suffocation of the Mind” deals with mental illness and as far as where we draw influence from, it could either start with a song title or a feeling from the music’.

Have you been sniffing out a label to release this on other formats as I really think it would be nice to have these songs on vinyl. What labels interest you or are you happy to go it alone?

Surely a label would be beneficial in terms of boosting your profile and assisting in organising some gigs outside of Ireland? Have you looked into touring abroad?

Mick: ‘At present we are working out details with a prominent underground label in regards releasing it on vinyl, the details are being worked out at present and once it’s confirmed, we’ll be going public with it. We’re very happy with it too as it’s a label we’ve been aware of for a while and would suit this release.

Another label also wants to do a run of cassettes for it too and, again, we’re working out details for that. We’re looking into going abroad for shows so hopefully this vinyl release will boost our profile and give us the option to play outside of Ireland’.

Torn To Death

The tones on the album are fucking great. There is a real sense of depth to the guitars, rather than just a dense chugging wall.

Tell us about your recording process and what exactly you had in mind when entering the studio. Are you satisfied with the results?

Mick: ‘The preparation for the recording was very simple, we practiced the songs to death, tore them apart put them together again until each progression felt natural.

All the drums were recorded live with no clicks whatsoever. It lent a more natural feeling to the recording, allowing the music to push and pull.

The recording was handled by Ciaran Culhane of Shardborne and he did a fucking stellar job, such a laid back guy to record with and he has endless patience. He mixed and mastered it too. As far as guitar tones go, we used the same rigs that we use live and all the guitars were quad-tracked to fill it out a bit more. Likewise with the bass, Alan used his own gear too.

It’s about as accurate a representation you’re going to get of us. We had no particular tones in mind when it came to recording.

We just wanted it to sound like Zealot Cult. All the artwork for the release was done again by Ken Coleman, who also did the first demo and we’re very happy with how it turned out’.

The vocals need a mention here too. You have mostly traded the deeper growls in for a more wretched approach that sounds inspired by John Tardy and a young David Vincent.

I also really like the use of spoken mantra-like vocals on ‘Suffocation of the Mind’- it’s a small detail that adds a hell of a lot to the song. How did the vocal style morph so much over the last six years? Was it a conscious move or did it just work out that way naturally?

>

Jaye: ‘As far as the vocal tones go, when I first started singing death metal vocals years ago it was more the style from ‘Karmenian Crypt’ that I used as naturally I am more comfortable with it and to be honest I prefer it. With the songs we were coming up with it felt right.

Tardy and Vincent would be two of my all-time favourite vocalists so there would be influence from there, ‘Covenant’/ ‘Cause of Death’-era, also a lot of influence from Pestilence. So more than being a conscious decision it just came naturally.

With the spoken words, I had an idea of what I wanted to do but it wasn’t until I got to studio that it came to fruition. I think it adds to the song and I’m happy that I did it. The idea of it is a load of voices racing through someone’s mind’.

There has been a bit of discussion on Metal Ireland lately about the lack of young lads/lasses making music in this sort of style.

You guys have been around a good while and could be considered to be, ahem, elder statesmen of the scene so how do you see it? Are things better on the West coast than the East or is it all down to the old farts to unleash the rot?

Mick: ‘As far as I know there are few to no young bands coming through in Limerick. Fair enough, you see the kids with the patch jackets coming to gigs with some really old band patches and you’d think why aren’t they starting bands??

To be honest, we’re doing this purely for ourselves, there’s nobody playing the style of death metal that we’re doing locally and I can’t see it happening anytime soon.

The scene in Limerick is very small too, it’s a close knit community but we’re all completely different. I can only speak of the bands in Limerick and Tipperary as I’m not familiar with the Cork or Galway scenes.

For example, the scene here is varied, there are doom bands, atmospheric bands, proggy bands and us’.

It’s Still 1991 Here

The death metal scene has been in rude health over the last five or ten years with countless new bands emerging, both in the old school vein and twisting it into new forms.

Zealot Cult are resolutely old school in your approach so what bands do you draw influence from and what newer bands do you feel are doing a good job of carrying the torch on from the masters? Or do you even keep abreast of newer bands?

‘The bands that we’d listen to would be all the old bands from the late 80’s to early 90’s: Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Pestilence, Deicide, Sepultura, Immolation, old Slayer etc… It’s still 1991 here. We wouldn’t be all too familiar with newer bands, maybe the likes of Dead Congregation but that’s about it’.

Seeing as it has taken you six years to get the three new songs released does this suggest that you write slowly and are choosy about what you will use?

Are we likely to have to wait for ages for more new material or do you have new songs in the works and what can you tell us about them if you do?

Mick: ‘We are always rehearsing. We still meet up once a week and put ideas together but as was explained earlier, we drifted for a while and ended discarding two demos worth of material before settling into writing what came naturally to us.

At present, we are working on material for an album which we hope to start recording later in the year. We have about four completed songs and the seeds of about another four or five. We have some shows coming up alright with Malthusian and we were added to the Dark Arts fest in Galway which has a cool lineup confirmed so far with Malthusian, Zom and Vircolac.

Other than that we’re gonna be busy getting the vinyl of “Karmenian Crypt” out and working on preparing for the album. We’ll be busy for sure’.

‘Thanks a lot for the interview – for anyone that hasn’t got a copy of “Karmenian Crypt”, you can pick up the CD at https://zealotcult.bandcamp.com/ which will be updated with new merch soon. Also, check out Our Facebook for updates on the vinyl release which will be disclosed in due course. Cheers!!’

Interview by Andy Cunningham ::: 06/06/16
With thanks to Ken Coleman and Shane Horan for photos



6 Comments
  1. Good stuff! I’ve had karmenian on pretty much daily rotation since picking it up and it only gets better with listens. “It sounds monstrous yet – it’s crafted with memorability in mind” this sums it up for me. So important to give the time and attention to the songs. Here’s hoping the material for their future full length is as strong.

  2. Eoin McLove Says:

    Absolutely. I’ve been hooked on it since picking it up. Massive kudos to Ciaran Culhane for capturing the sound so well. It sounds heavy as fuck but has depth and richness. I think the label who will be doing the vinyl version could help to really boost their profile. I expect we’ll be seeing them added to some deadly lineups in the next year on European soil. Here’s hopping!

  3. Eoin McLove Says:

    Hoping! But hopping too…

  4. Andy/bottle Says:

    This has taken me by surprise. I saw them in Dublin in the Pint at some gig or other a few years back and thought they were alright, but nothing too interesting and promptly forgot about them. This release sounds a different kettle of fish altogether. Absolutely love the vocals. And those early 90’s death metal leads are totally hitting the spot. I was only talking to a few lads at Unconquered Darkness about this kind of style and where was it in today’s scene, as I’ve been on a bit of an early Sepultura buzz lately. Delighted this has surfaced. Production is killer as well.

  5. David Vincent Says:

    Savage!

  6. Eoin McLove Says:

    I think there is a sense of adventure about this release that will stand to the lads.

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