Interview with NECROWRETCH

Interview with NECROWRETCH

- in Written interviews

Photo Credit: Léonor Ananké

Hi! Congratulations on the release of “Swords of Dajjal”! Can you share the creative journey behind this record and what inspired its evolution in sound?
Greetings! The writing of this album started in March 2020 during the pandemic and first lockdown we had in France. So it’s almost a four years journey from the writing to the release! It was a pretty long time, but we were not in a rush, everything was paused and there wasn’t so much live activity, therefore we had plenty of time to focus on it.

First of all, we formed a new line up and started to work together on the songwriting. The first song we crafted was Swords of Dajjal, and from this point we decided to make it the title song and to build the album around it.

Later, we decided to acquire new gear, especially to change the guitar’s sound into something more powerful, where our previous albums were into a muddy, reverb sound, this time we went for something clear, powerful and “in your face”, without losing the evil ambiance of our music. This took a lot of time to find the good balance for every instrument.

After two years, countless demos and rehearsals we entered Studio Sainte Marthe (Paris) in late 2022 and spent five weeks to produce the album. We finished 2022 with the mastering in our hands and spent 2023 rehearsing, producing some music videos, the artwork and other promo elements in order to be ready to start 2024 with the album release with full force!

Could you delve into the concept behind the album’s title and artwork, and how it ties into the music’s themes?
We were always connected to Eastern mythology, may it be from family, movies, travels, music or shows…

Therefore we decided that not only Dajjal itself but many other myths/tales were interesting enough to make songs around it.

Some songs are based on Islamic eschatology, while others are more connected to ancient Berber or Numidian, let’s say “pre roman empire” history of North Africa.

The album was written on 12 strings acoustic guitar in order to create some memorable riffs with a natural oriental vibe at first, then reshaped for big distorted electric guitars into a “metal” version. It was a very interesting way to write the music, because if a riff already sounds great in acoustic, surely it will sound huge on electric guitar.

For the artwork, we worked with Stefan Thanneur, a French artist who was already in charge of our previous album “The Ones From Hell”. We only reached him when the album was fully mixed and mastered, as it was important for us that he can listen to the music and craft his vision of the music. When we received the artwork, it was exactly what we were aiming for a demonic prophet with his sword with some red/gold pattern somewhere between Dune and Diablo II.

Most of all it was important for both parties that the artwork stands out, may it be online or a record shop, you can’t miss this mysterious artwork, therefore it will bring interest and curiosity about the music.

“Numidian Knowledge” showcases the energy from new drummer Nicolas Destroyer. How has his addition influenced the band’s dynamics and creativity?
Long story short: Nicolas already played some live sessions with us many years ago, therefore when we worked on a new lineup, it was clear he was the one to do it!

Drums are the most important element for extreme metal bands. A good drummer is mandatory for good music.

With Nicolas, we stopped to play on fixed tempos like “140 or 180” but we took time to really find the exact speed and groove where everyone is in osmose.

Therefore we slowed down many riffs and fastened some others in order to really add a natural dynamic to the songs like you can feel in a live performance.

In the studio, we decided to mix the drums really in the front, and to add a LOT of reverb on the toms and add some panorama to put the listener into the drum seat, which is also not a very common mix, especially in modern days.

We also added Conga percussion to add more drum bass to some parts, you can hear it here and around and it adds another oriental vibe to the whole thing.

Necrowretch has always explored themes of darkness and death. What draws you to these themes, both musically and thematically?
Metal music, movies, books, video games… We grew up in the 90’s with all these influences from X-Files, Resident Evil, Legacy of Kain, Warcraft and so on… Plus all the black/death metal in general and the gameboard/roleplay sessions. So talking about a “dark portal to Hell” is kinda normal in our everyday life! There is no doubt that when writing music, it will be something related to magic, mythology, dark arts and other grim elements.

Can you walk us through the process of crafting such intense atmosphere on “Ksar Al-Kufar”?
Once upon a time, I visited the city of Ksar Al-Kebir in Morocco and felt very ill. It was like a Lovecraftian sickness where I was suffering a martyrdom and had some crisis for many days, some locals said it was because of djiin, where I do believe “kif” was more to blame.
Anyway, since these days it was always on my mind to write a song called Ksar Al Kufar, like a devilish version of this city, a place you can’t find on any map but you can reach only through dreams, or let’s say nightmares!

When we started to write the album with this oriental theme, I knew it was the time for Ksar Al Kufar to come to life, and in the end it turned out so good that we chose it for the opening song of the album and our live shows!

With “Swords of Dajjal,” Necrowretch seems to have reached new heights in complexity while retaining raw energy. How do you balance pushing boundaries and staying true to your roots?
We see each new album as a new challenge, something that will push new limits and sounds better and better. It’s a big cliché when an artist says its latest album is the best one, but in our case I guess it was always the case. Most of our audience are attending our shows to see our new songs live, not the old stuff or the demos.
This is something we can be proud of because it’s not common in metal in general, people, including us, are staying on the classics for decades.
Again, I think it’s important to fix a goal with an album and stick to it no matter what, if the goal is to overthrow our previous songs, then we will make it.

The album has been praised for blending melody with savagery. How do you navigate between these elements in your songwriting?
It’s up to everyone’s interpretation, but we do not make music to sound “like this or like that”, the music should sound like Necrowretch.

The change of tempos, moving from binary to ternary, adding some vocals break are some elements that will always work for any metal songs. Sometimes when you write a riff you already know what can come next, sometimes it will take weeks to find a proper suite to initial ideas.
The most important thing is that you can remember every riff, I can’t stand any fillers or generic riffs, everything needs to be intense or not to be at all.

With every album we are improving our sound signature and Swords of Dajjal will definitely add more uniqueness in our blend of horror.

What significance does “Vae Victis” hold for Necrowretch, and how does it tie into the themes explored in your music?
The reality of the world, to the vanquished woe! History testify that only the strongest survive and it still continues in the world we are living in.

More particularly on this song, we based the story upon the sack of Rome in 390 BC, where the Gauls defeated the Romans and imposed their conditions on the vanquished.

In a world where millions believe that mercy and forgiveness is the key to mankind’s salvation, this song does not!

Can you elaborate on your approach to songwriting and how you create a cohesive sound?
As mentioned above, I use acoustic 12 strings guitar, a pen & paper to write the first riffs. Then I will write the song around the main riff and define a rough structure for the song.

I will share my ideas with my fellow musicians and check their feedback/ideas to improve the songs. This will lead to some home demos before jamming the song in rehearsal.

When the full song structure is over, we will write the lyrics and make another demo to try the vocals pattern, and so on. This process can take months to finish one song.

What does “Swords of Dajjal” represent for Necrowretch in terms of artistic growth and musical ambition?
The truth is that we can venture into new horizons and let our music speak for itself.

I see Swords of Dajjal as the opening of a new chapter for the band, surely the best album is yet to come.

How do you stay true to your vision as artists while navigating industry expectations?
We do not navigate in any industry exceptions. We do music in our free time alongside our careers. This is not about money and I guess this is also why extreme metal is so sincere and true.
I do believe that the best albums of the genre were delivered by musicians playing with their guts as it was the last day of their lives.
And that the worst albums of the genre were delivered by musicians playing to pay their bills and satisfy their fans.

What do you hope listeners take away from “Swords of Dajjal,” and what lies ahead for Necrowretch in terms of future projects? Thank you for your time!
Thanks for your interview and thanks to the people supporting Necrowretch for almost 15 years.
We are working on a new music video for this year as well as various shows in Europe and beyond.
Stay tuned and prepare yourself for horrible doom !!

Swords of Dajjal is available now
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