We were fortunate enough to grab a few words from Necrophiliac as they wandered by in a blue twilight neon haze of cyberspace, and caught vocalist Bongo in a mood to reveal the secrets of this dark and primeval death metal sect.
Following up on their classic Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors (1992), the band also released a re-issue of the early works with Maze of Forking Paths (2016) before unleashing their second full-length No living man is innocent this year.
Right now, we simply hope to catch up with Necrophiliac after No living man is innocent and revisit some of this rich history of a highly unique and personalitied death metal band.
The history of Necrophiliac appears to extend as far back as 1987. What prompted the formation of the band and what were you initially trying to achieve?
I think that 1987 is an accurate date of origin, perhaps not really as a band with some decent skills, but already playing some sort of primitive thrash, learning instruments, and crafting its first songs, with members changing from one session to other until there was a stable lineup. We were a bunch of friends heavily influenced by early Possessed, Slayer, Exodus, and Venom. We wanted to somehow “emulate” these bands and write some songs similar to what we were listening to during those years.
What were some of you main influences, metal or otherwise at the time, and how did they contribute to the vision the band had for itself?
We didn’t have a clear vision of what the band should be, at least in the beginning, apart from having fun creating songs in the vein of Possessed or Venom as I said before. Playing some riffs and singing lyrics taken directly from our favourite terror/horror movies was something incredible for us. It was like a game, our favorite bands play fast and with dark growls, so we’ll try to play faster and louder than them! I think that it’s something that every band does at the beginning, and then later you start refining your style and finding your own way.
How did Miguel joining initally affect the band in terms of songwriting?
It was very important, Miguel initially brings his own style, influenced by Morbid Angel, early Napalm Death, Carcass, and of course Chuck Schuldiner’s Death. We left our Possessed and Venom influences behind when Jacinto left the band and we started to get more influences from death metal acts from the USA and Europe. Songs then tended to be more complex, with more rhythm changes, different tempos and also better lyrics.
The term “Chaopula,” what does it mean? Why is it important?
It is fundamental for the 1992 release Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors; the concept appeared very strong on my mind as I was reading a Jorge Luis Borges short story named “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” All readings from Borges are deep, dense and mind-blowing, opening your mind and your imagination to a new world of fiction. That’s what happened when I read the sentence from that short story:
Mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of men.
“Chaopula” is a contraction of “Chaos of Copula,” the chaos that creates our reproduction and multiplication in our world. On this release I thought of human beings like mirrors that, in the instant of copulation, reflect an evil force inherent to our universe, producing and multiplying aberrated images (new living beings). Mirrors, reflections, and forking paths.. all important elements of Borges’ prose.
Is there such a thing as “metaphysical evil”? If so, how does this inform your understanding of reality? Do you have to be religious to believe in metaphysical evil?
On Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors I suggest that there is an evil substance that becomes part of us; this abstract evilness melts into us only in the moment of copulation. We reproduce like distorted images on mirrors, or images distorted by aberrated mirrors. That is the metaphysical evil first cause of pain, violence, and death. We are all capable of doing terrible things, consciously or unconsciously. You can find some examples of this on our new release No living man is innocent. Do you have to be religious to believe in metaphysical evil? No, if you think of this evil in terms of biology as something inherent to humans as living beings.
What prompted the cessation of the band after Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors? Are there existing recordings of material that had been written for the immediate follow up?
We were very tired, we spent a lot of years with this project but it was increasingly difficult to continue playing on stage here in Spain, most of the times spending our own money. There were many discussions, and we stopped rehearsing. Agreement with Drowned Records for a second release also ceased. We all returned to our works and normal life and four years we kept distanced even from scene. There were songs composed for a second release, one of them I consider myself my favourite, that was played a couple of times but I can’t find live recordings. I remember lyrics and music but none of guitarist remember a single riff! That song was titled “Crown of Deforest” and talks about a concept I was developing by that years for next release, but was never used after that.
How has your approach to songwriting changed over the years? Who does most of the songwriting?
Songwriting has not changed much over the years since 1989. Ery and Miguel (guitars) write all music. Sometimes they collaborate making changes and adding riffs and sometimes one write a complete song. Back in the rehearsal room, the other components make changes over the original song when we start to add drums and bass. In parallel I write lyrics over music and ask for changes when it’s needed for some fragments. The main difference from 1992 and now is that now we work closely and bring forth many different versions until we consider is finished. Back in 1992 it was a “faster” process to write a song, with fewer changes throughout the creation process. Also I try to give them always the idea behind the music and what I want to express to help them get the right atmosphere.
Regarding lyrics and concept behind work, as in 1992’s Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors, I start from a main concept to develop rest of lyrics. Difference with 1992 is that on No living man is innocent all lyrics fully relate to the main concept, something that did not happen on Chaopula, with some older tracks (“Astral Corpse”) from our demos, and other tracks about other ideas. On Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors, a sentence from Borges was the inspiration for mirrors, copulation, and chaos. On our new release, there is a sentence from writer and reporter Vassili Grossman who covered the battle for Stalingrad and other important battles on WWII Russian East Front. On “Everything flows” (one of his novels) you can read: “…and no one among the living is innocent. All the living are guilty.” I wanted to take this sentence in a more general context. Are we all partially guilty of atrocities, massive killings and execrable acts committed during our existence, just by indifference, omission, or incitement?
How did you each keep busy in the intervening years between Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors and No Living Man is Innocent? What prompted the reformation of the band?
We all went back to our normal life apart from Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors; some of us were involved in music more on the technical side, another with different musical projects (nothing to do with metal), all back to work and other personal projects. When Ted Tringo from Dark Symphonies released a double vinyl LP of Chaopula: Citadel of Mirrors with 1992 release and demos, we did a reunion to talk about old times, and since them, we all were thinking about bringing the band back to life again and try to release a new work.
Do you still listen to old school death metal and did it influence the sound on No living man is innocent? (What bands did influence the sound?)
Of course, we all keep listening to the same bands that we were hearing thirty years ago! We listen what makes us feel really good, and old school death metal is soooo damn good… We had clear in our minds since we started songwriting for No living man is innocent that we wanted to release an old school death ,etal work, or at least something that brings you something of that years, with our personal way of playing death metal, of course. Talking about influences, Death has always been one of our favourite bands and one of our main influences. Also Carcass (Symphonies of Sickness), Napalm Death (Mentally Murdered), Immolation, Asphyx, etc.
How has No living man is innocent been received amongst the metal community? Do you have any tour plans?
Well, after reading many reviews I find that there are very different opinions. One handicap is that it’s not an easy work; it’s 55 minutes long, far longer than most death metal releases, with long tracks like “No living man is innocent” (8:41) or “Inhabitants of the red forest” (8:30). Some gets puzzled by our constant changes of rhythm, other says that they all fit properly. There are very good reviews and also very bad ones. It’s something curious that in general this work doesn’t find much favor in some European countries devoted to classic death metal, but it is liked more in South America and Spain. I’m aware that it’s not traditional death metal and does not have a traditional sound either. Anyway we are proud of this release, it’s our personal way of writing and playing in the death metal style. As I usually say, I’m proud of writing a piece of work expressing an idea that other people can listen to and express an opinion, good or bad, but the act of creating it and communicating to others is something really great…
Regarding touring, it is unfortunately very difficult for us to go on tour or take several days off because of our work. But… who knows in the future? We had a date planned for the Eradication Festival this year in the UK and then Coronavirus came on the scene.
Is humanity doomed?
Is there any doubt about it? Hahahah… Well, I am very negative about mankind and human beings in general so my opinion doesn’t count. I must say that all lyrics on No living man is innocent talk about true, historic events, no inventions at all. Some are difficult to relate with real events but there are clues here and there…
Is there a relationship between living in Andalusia and the sound you have created for Necrophilliac?
I think that yes, you can find some melodic riffs or arrangements that are reminiscent of some other musical styles from Andalusia. Our style does not comply with standards from European or American death metal, but is a mix of influences from then and “touches” from many other bands, not necessary from metal bands.
Why is death metal important?
Do you consider music an important aspect of your life? Does it makes you feel better? Do you find inspiration for many other aspects of your life? If death metal as a musical style fulfills this requirement then death metal is important, of course.
Is death metal strictly an outsider art? What kind of person is drawn to listening to, or playing death metal? Is death metal “inclusive”?
Perhaps in the 80s and 90s death metal was considered an outsider style, but I think that this has changed nowadays. This style has now an incredible popularity and reputation, something that it lacked in the past. I found myself with many different people not related at all with metal that listen to death metal and like bands from this style.
What are the main differences between the death metal scene and bands of today and that of the late 80s early 90s?
Here in Spain for example there are a lot more live shows involving death metal bands, more stable circuits for playing live and many high level Spanish bands with great reputation outside our frontiers. During the 80s and 90s it was very difficult to keep a death metal band alive, at least in our case. Now there are a lot of labels interested on releasing this stuff and a better distribution. Now you can reach greater audiences with less effort, and that’s very important for bands to continue creating new releases.
Add any final thoughts here.
Thanks for the interest in our band, it’s very important for us to share our last work and let people know about it, and give the opportunity to listen, and maybe think about main concept of this work.