Their 3 rd album, “Quietus” (out on Avantgarde) has helped EVOKEN to reach a well deserved status in the sadly too confidential Doom scene. Their music is definitely Death/Doom at its best…slow…dark ..sad yet powerful and heavy. EVOKEN has touched my soul and GAM’s ones too so he had the idea of interviewing EVOKEN and we both worked out these questions. Nick Orlando answered us, nearly a year after “Quietus”, to talk about his musical influences, EVOKEN, other things and DOOM of course…
EVOKEN INTERVIEW (2003) By Silenius and Gam.
Apart from being mistaken with 70's hippie rock shit most of the time, Doom metal has never been really popular like Death Metal in the late 80's/early 90's and Black metal later on, with very few bands playing the style which has remained pretty underground through the years. With this in mind, how did you get to know about Funeral Doom? Were you first introduced to the haunting, brutal side of Doom by slower Death metal bands like Incantation, Autopsy, Asphyx and Demigod? Tell us how you got there?
Well, back in 1991 when I was still in a death metal band called PUTRIFACT, I was an avid (as I am to this day) scenester....I wrote to a ton of bands and bought a lot of demos/vinyl. One band that I happened to come upon called DISEMBOWELMENT really floored me. I already had their 1st demo from 1990; and although it was really great it didn't hit me even one-tenth as much as their second demo "Deep Sensory Procession Into Aural Fate" did. Upon listening to that demo everything really changed with what I was doing musically and what I wanted to incorporate into my own band. A few months later I heard the THERGOTHON "Ftaghn Nagh-Yog Sothoth" demo and that equally floored me. I quit PUTRIFACT and started writing riffs for my own band and looking for musicians to jam with. Of course, back then it was not called "Funeral Doom" it was just good ole' doom/death and that was that. The term "Funeral Doom" came later and I believe it was started by the Red Stream descriptions of Skepticism in their ads.
Once you discovered the existence of such music, what initially inspired you to play it? As of today, what is keeping you inspired? Is EVOKEN a catharsis for your own feelings?
It was a good thing my older sister back then was quite the metal head because that gave me constant exposure to the heavier, harder music at a young age & helped me become hell bent on buying my first guitar. Listening to Black Sabbath,Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, etc created the initial interest but it was the heavier stuff like Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" & bands like Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Sodom, Slayer, etc that really made me want to play guitar. Today various things inspire me-a good book, listening to an old classic album, hearing some really great new doom band...movies, poetry. You find inspiration from various places as you get older. Tastes change and different things motivate you for different reasons. Evoken is total catharsis for me. I like to think it shows all of the band's genuine feelings....and that doesn't mean they're only bleak & hopeless & that we're completely grim nut cases. We have our positive sides too but when it comes to our musical creativity we've opted to explore the darker, negative sides of our own feelings.
To me, Doom metal is not something you listen to for fun, like when you get up in the morning, or take a shower. Doom is everything except catchy entertainment music if you know what I mean. It is a deeper art form that’s charged with feelings and emotions, and to truly enjoy it, you have to sit down and listen carefully...What’s your reaction when meeting a fan who seems to have felt and enjoyed the EVOKEN vibe? Is it important for you to know how others perceive your creations?
It's important that fans know where we're coming from and what we 're trying to convey....but when dealing with lyrics/music that are a bit more obscure than your average goth/doom type stuff you can't always make someone see exactly what you want them to see. Our material is obscure & mysterious like I said and that means it can be open for many different interpretations. I think the majority of the time though, most of the fans get the overall vibe/feel of what we're doing & we really appreciate that. It helps in completing the "experience" of listening to an Evoken CD. I like the fans that just say "Dude, that album is friggin heavy!!!!!!!!!" because of course, we want it to be as heavy as possible but I think it's even more of a compliment to have a fan really explain how it made them feel or have them tell you they came home from their family member's funeral and threw your CD on. That is what makes you want to continue on & it's why we will never do anything to make our fans feel disappointed.
Since Metal gigs tend to draw more an audience of beer drinking losers and stage divers rather than true music lovers, why did you decide to play concerts ? Is there anything you want to put across through a show with your music?
I am not the biggest fan of playing shows & i've said that before a hundred times. I don't think it's worth playing 10 shitty gigs to have the one really great gig happen. But, the other members do enjoy it and I guess there is a demand (not a very big one though) for us to play shows at least once and a while. We like to come across live the same exact way as we do on CD....sorrow, misery, darkness, desolation, anger, hatred, etc. All the emotions are real and we try our hardest to portray them in a live setting the same way we did when we recorded them. We want the experience to be a deeper one and have the fans remember it for a longer time than your average blast away band set. You can see that any time....but a doom band ? That is something that doesn't happen often & is not so easily forgotten.
Speaking of shows how was the reaction of the Deicide crowd to EVOKEN's wall of gloominess on March 31? I remember a show featuring Deicide/Cathedral/Brutal Truth/Sinister/Kataklysm and Fleshcrawl and....3/4 of the audience left during Cathedral!!!
That show was lame !!! Here we were thinking "well, at least Deicide will draw a lot of people so it'll be a large crowd" haha, NOT!!! Deicide drew next to nothing and they were all lame 15 year olds that looked no different than your average hip-hop fan. That's not including the total wanna-be black metallers....but I won't even get into that. We played but no one really cared. What Deicide fan would want to see a band play .2 mph 10-12 minute long epics ? So of course, we played extra slow and made sure to crank it as loud as we could (Silenius : Well done guys !!!).
Talking about Cathedral, do you enjoy their first lp, their first ep and the soul sacrifice ep? Do you like the way they've turned? And have you heard the latest release of Lee Dorian's label Rise Above records, the band is called Teeth of Lion Rules The Divine...
I am a huge fan of old Cathedral. I even enjoyed some of the songs on The Ethereal Mirror. I have not followed them since then though so I can't really comment on that material. I have heard songs on the radio on occasion and did see them live last year at the New Jersey Metalfest. I must say what I did hear was complete crap. Bouncy, happy bullshit. Definitely not for me. As for the Teeth of Lions thing, I just listened to an MP3 track from the link you sent me. I thought it was ok....sounds too much like other Southern Lord stuff.
Time passes for many things...what do you think of bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride? And how did you react in the early 90's when many bands like Carcass, Entombed, Grave and others bands changed their music?
Yes, the passage of time changes a lot. If you had asked me this question 10 years ago i'd have given you a completely different answer. I think Paradise Lost sucks hard. Their last good album in my opinion was "Icon". I don' t follow them at all nowadays but I do have the shitty luck of catching them on the radio sometimes. It always strikes me just how gay they've gotten. It's like a totally different band. My Dying Bride I still enjoy to a certain extent. Everything after Turn Loose the Swans I don't bother with. The only albums I had by them after Turn Loose....was Angel & the Dark River & The Dreadful Hours. Both did very well on Ebay I might add!!!! Just not into their newer stuff at all. The early 90's death metal scene was much harder to take as it seemed EVERY great band either folded or released a shitty album. The scene just imploded in on itself as the music became really stagnant and bands were trying to come up with new stuff that was just total bullshit (Atheist, Pestilence-that technical, complex baloney). And then of course, trendy labels like Roadrunner & Century Media saw that they couldn't make money on DM bands anymore so they pulled out & looked elsewhere to make their mega bucks.
I know you're fan of old school Swedish DM, as your side project, FUNEBRARUM, where you handle the guitars, demonstrates. Why did you created that band? Is it going to take more importance or is it going to stay a side project to express things you cannot do in EVOKEN?
Yes, I am a huge fan of early Swedish & Finnish death metal!!! I (along with Daryl Kahan & Dave Wagner) created Funebrarum because we all love old school DM and wanted to play the truest stuff possible that was untouched by all the gay trends around today. It is basically our own tribute to all the old, great bands. It is a side project now; as we are still writing material and keeping tight without a drummer. The drummer situation has left us a bit dormant for the time being, but I assure you once we do get a drummer (and right now as we speak we may have someone) we will become what we all want to make this band....a real gigging, recording band with I would say just as much importance as my other band. But of course, that can only be decided on us stabilizing our line-up problems.
About ten years ago, Sweden was a breeding ground for Death metal bands, apart from the big five (Entombed, Carnage, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed), do you feel there is any other band that did not get the support it deserved?
Oh, there were tons of bands that didn't get the support they deserved!!! Right off the bat, Crematory....which is my favorite out of them all. They deserved a much better fate then they got. Also Afflicted/Afflicted Convulsion, Gorement, Macabre End, Macrodex, Traumatic, Nirvana 2002, Uncanny,etc.....there are many Finnish bands too. Most of these bands had a large underground following but never really got the huge push that the big five you mentioned above had.
How much time do you have to devote to EVOKEN and FUNEBRARUM? I guess you've all got side jobs which don't make things easy (touring and things like that)!!
Right now I am unemployed so I have more time to devote to the bands. Touring would be quite hard for Evoken since we all do have wives/significant others; children, bills to pay ;jobs; etc...But given enough notice we could make it happen. It's just not so easy escaping off to Europe now then it was when we were 18 and had no worries or bills or any families waiting to come home to. I know that even when I do get a job, there will always be enough time to play music and continue with my bands. I do not have many hobbies or have many things I do besides my bands so I do not have to worry.
What have has "Quietus" brought to the band in any possible way? Are you finally satisfied with your label? How were promotions and sales? Looking back on it, are you fully satisfied or are there some minus points? Now that time has passed tell us how you view on this lp, do you regret things about it?
I don't regret anything about Quietus in regard to the material. I think it was our strongest, darkest stuff that we had ever written up to that point in time & I think we did a great job recording it. I sometimes think the guitars could be a bit louder & nag about really little things but overall I am completely satisfied with it. We held nothing back and gave it the best effort we possibly could....therefore there are no regrets on what we should've or could've done. It has really helped us gain a lot of new fans-more so than both of our previous efforts combined. Never have I gotten so much positive feedback and fan emails. It's really encouraging to see. It made Evoken a name in the scene and that was what we wanted.....to be acknowledged & respected for what we do. Avantgarde has been ok, nothing spectacular. We are not a high priority on the label but I guess being low man on the roster is better than having no label at all. Promotion has been almost nonexistent though...I know we're not going to sell 20,000 copies but a little extra help would've really been beneficial. No use worrying about it though, we move on and continue on doing what we do.
What has the band been doing lately? I guess you’re writing new materials, what are we to expect?
Evoken has been writing for the last few months. We have 5 new songs now and another one will be written before we go into the studio, which will hopefully be in October. You can basically expect the same Evoken heaviness; darkness; and audio desolation....but we find ourselves branching out a bit and trying a bit more experimental sounds with the guitars and keys. I guess "Where Ghosts Fall Silent" was a good precursor to what direction the new stuff is heading in. It was the last song written for Quietus so it's natural that I would make it the example. I don't think this material is quite as "epic" or "majestic" (terms i've heard many times when reading Quietus reviews) as our last album but completely darker and a little more involved....less movement and more focus on the interplay of the instruments during riffs.
I've red you were thinking about "re-using" the Quietus cello player and including new instruments like harps and things. Are you still thinking about that? Isn't it hard to handle such things without turning into, not mellow, but more, how can I say, "jolly" (yups! lack of vocabulary here...don’t get me wrong!) things...even though the break in the song "tower of the frozen dusk" show how striking can be such adds. I guess it's kind of challenging or is it totally natural for EVOKEN?
We are definitely thinking about using Suzanne again to play cello on the upcoming album. The cello just adds so much to certain parts; and we feel it does have some bearing in the overall Evoken sound. It certainly is not a "jolly" sounding instrument!! As for harp; I guess that was mentioned in another interview by another band member. We might have thought about it awhile back but as far as I know there will be no harp on the next CD. We're always thinking of things to help add to our sound. Some might actually get onto the album, some may not. Depends on whether it sounds good enough to us to warrant it being part of the song.
Will you be working with Ron Thal? I hope so because Quietus is also a monster sonically speaking...a fucking wall of music that absorbs the listener!!!
Thanks for the compliment!!! For a while there Ron Thal was not going to do our upcoming CD due to other things he wanted to accomplish with his band. He also just wanted a break from engineering for a while. We've spoken to him recently though and he is back & eager to do the new CD. He just purchased a house that he will turn into a studio which is great for us & of course we will be the ones breaking this new studio in so I can tell you that the upcoming CD is really going to be MASSIVE!!!!!
Tell us a few words about AvantGarde and Roberto. Do you like Monumentum? I feel an influence in some of the vocals. The whispering make me think about Monumentum!!
Hmm...I don't really want to go there but I will say he is one moody character. We've had our ups and downs with Avantgarde but I guess that comes with being on a bigger label. We appreciate what they've done for us but we'd like to get along more on a personal level....and that's where the language barrier holds both sides back. Monumentum is a very big influence on Evoken-we all are very much into them & it is one of our favourite "non-metal" bands out there today. You aren't the first person to mention that we sound like them...and definitely in the vocal department.
Being on a European label, with some good bands in the same style, how is it possible that Roberto didn't set up a "doom over Europe" tour in order to unleash the monolithic sound of doom and to show death metal freaks and black metal fans that there are other ways to express intensity?
I guess you would have to ask Roberto that question. We have been wanting to go to Europe for quite a long time now. It really has been one of our main goals we'd like to achieve before we call it a day. I can only assume it's album sales....and the usual lack of enthusiasm for doom. One would think though that in Europe doom is more accepted & it would be easier to have successful gigs. Maybe if the new CD does well enough we can get a chance to go over there and doomify them all. Best bet is to get people to email Mr. Roberto & tell him they want to see Evoken over in Europe. Maybe he'll listen if enough people let him know how they feel about the band.
Since "Shades of Night’s…", I personally feel that the death metal influence is becoming, say, secondary compared to the doom one. Do you head toward a complete doom approach or do you think, as I do, that the death influences (like vocals) add to the sheer heaviness and sadness your music breathes... I mean your doom has also a sort of aggressive side..
Well, the songs for Shades Of Night Descending were written between the years 92-94 so they are at least 10 years old. Back then there was some death metal influence (mainly the oldest My Dying Bride stuff) and even some Emperor influence as well- since we did enjoy black metal back then a lot more than we do now (Silenius : same for me…quite normal considering how BM turned into a vast joke) . Therefore, It was much more normal for us to incorporate those elements into our music. I think there are still a lot of death metal influences in our music....this type of music was spawned from doom/death-not classic doom. To have no other traits other than doom is classic doom to me in my book. Trouble, Solitude Aeturnus, Revelation, Count Raven, etc...and Evoken is certainly not in that style. Of course the vocals are very aggressive and purely death metal so that puts us even more into the doom/death category. We will never lose those; as you mentioned they add so much power to the misery and darkness that we are trying to project.
On your news section I’ve seen that for a show the keyboards were hold by Neil Lore, is there something special going on with Dario ?
Neil is my bass players brother-in-law. He is an awesome musician who did us a great favour and played a gig with us when we really needed someone to play keys. The reason being that Dario Derna is no longer in Evoken. He moved to Seattle, which is over 3,000 miles away to pursue a job & a new life. He will be returning to record on the upcoming CD, but after that he will be gone for good. We all wish him luck with his career/life.
What are for you the cornerstones doom albums...please educate our readers! What do you think of bands like Skepticism, Dolorian, Symphony Of Grief, Mourning Beloveth
My personal cornerstone doom albums would be: Thergothon-Stream From the Heavens; Winter-Into Darkness; Paradise Lost-Lost Paradise & Gothic; My Dying Bride-Symphonnaire Infernus & As the Flower Withers; Disembowelment-Transcendence Into the Peripheral; Cathedral-Forest Of Equilibrium; Trouble-Psalm 9 & The Skull; Black Sabbath-First 6 Lps; Skepticism-Stormcrowfleet; Esoteric-The Pernicious Enigma; Anathema-Crestfallen; Decomposed-Hope Finally Died; etc etc...
I think Skepticism's first LP is awesome; a classic. I can't get into anything they did after that though. I know a lot of people love them but I can't say i'm the hugest fan. Dolorian i've only heard a slight bit of....it sounded pretty cool. A bit Monumentum-ish in some parts. Can't really say too much about them though. Symphony Of Grief was from my home state NJ; I remember them being more like really slow death metal-very heavy & a good band but perhaps more deathish than doom. Mourning Beloveth is a cool new band as well. They are like what My Dying Bride would've been like if they didn't turn to shit after "Turn Loose..." good clean vox too.....a solid band. It's good to see bands like this are still around.
Apart metal, what bands do you listen to? Do you enjoy industrial bands from labels like Cold Meat Industry (Sweden) or Cold Spring (UK)?
I have enjoyed some Cold Meat stuff like Brighter Death Now, Ordo Equitum Solis, Aghast, & Tombstone although I can't say I listen to any of that stuff these days. Most of my non metal stuff is either dark ambient/noise like Lustmord; Black Tape For A Blue Girl; Lycia; Voice Of Eye; Yen Pox; Univers Zero; Endura; etc..or stuff like Portishead; Monumentum; The Swans....and i'm really big on shoegazer type stuff like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine. Mira, Swervedriver, etc...which is really gay of me but I can't help it !!!! hahaha
Speaking of non metal things, do you appreciate Trial Of The Bow, the new band, formed from the ashes of the mighty Disembowelment, which focus mainly on the tribal elements that one could sometimes hear on "Transcendence into the peripheral?
I think Trial Of the Bow is a good band. Especially their first album; which like you said had elements that were definitely on "Transcendance....as well. Sometimes I wish those guys would reform the mighty D but I guess their hearts & minds are elsewhere musically. I haven't heard much from them in recent years though....hopefully they haven't broken up and left the music scene altogether.
Now, could you, please give us some bands you definitely support whether they are dead or alive, young or old...
Ok, you asked so here goes!!!! Thergothon,Winter,Crematory (Swe), Disembowelment, Grave, Bolt Thrower, Abhorrence, Funebre, Archgoat, Beherit, Darkthrone, Manes, (old) Paradise Lost, (old )MDB, (old) Cathedral, Traumatic, Pestigore, Carnage, Gorement, Old Funeral, (old)Xysma, Demilch, Carbonized, Afflicted Convulsion, Necrovore, Sodom, (old) Kreator, (old) Death, Mournful Congregation, Unearthly Trance, Mourning Beloveth, Abazagorath, Hierophant, Worship, Funeral, Thy Grief Eternal, Possessed, Dark Angel, Disgrace, Purtanance Avulsion, (old)Disastrous Murmur, Disharmonic Orchestra, (old) Pungent Stench, Repulsion, Carnivore, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, Blood Feast, Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Sir Lord Baltimore, Deep Purple, Unholy, Macrodex, King Crimson (old) Trouble, Dream Death, Kvist, (old)Rotting Christ, Shub Niggurath, Cenotaph(Mex), Lord Diabolus, Bathory, Autopsy, etc etc...I could go on for another page !!
And now the classical final words...unleash your soul!!! But before I’d like to thank you for your answers, your music and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Europe. STAY DOOM!!!
Thanks a lot for the interview, Silenius! (Silenius : these ones go also to GAM who helped me A LOT with the questions). We appreciate the support. Hopefully we can meet in person if Evoken gets the chance to tour....Good luck with your zine & Stay Morbid !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So as you have red, Nick’s great guy and answered us with honesty and dedication which is quite appreciable. The excellent “Quietus” is still available on Avantgarde and hopefully their will be a new LP in a few months. FUNEBRARUM has just put out a killer album on Necroharmonic and we hope that they will find a drummer soon.