- Hello, Omar! You are working on your new album. How is it going? At what stage are you now?
- Hello Dima and readers of ‘Tough Riffs’ zine. First off thank you for sparing space and time for us!
Yes the new album is in the works. Drums and rhythm guitars are recorded already and the vocals are being recorded gradually. We still need to record the bass tracks and the leads, and mix and master the whole thing.
- Are you working again with David Vella? He contributed a lot to your previous albums. Could you shed some light on the origin of your long-time cooperation? Who else is involved into album's production?
- We are not working with David Vella this time round. David was involved in all of the previous Beheaded albums. On our last album, ‘Never to Dawn’ we recorded the music at his studio. Mixing was also carried out there but then we opted to mix it again in Italy at 16th Cellar, Rome. David Vella’s studio (Temple Studios) is a very professional facility set in Mistra Bay, a very nice spot here on the island. It is exceptional and in the past has been used by artists of very high calibre like Rammstein, Zornik, Such a Surge, Philip Boa and the list goes on.
Nevertheless we opted to record this coming album gradually using different facilities. The reason is also because we are almost all living in different countries now. Frank (vocals) is living in the UK, me and David (Bass) are living in Malta and Davide Billia (Drums) and Simone Brigo (guitar) are Italians who live in northern Italy.
Since we are working with Davide Billia on drums, he offered that we could use his studio in Italy to record the rhythm guitars and drums. Vocals are being recorded at Frank’s home in Leeds UK, because he had invested in good equipment and can handle that by himself. The leads will probably be recorded in Italy and bass will be done in Malta. Mixing and mastering will then be handled in Sweden at the Enhanced Audio Productions Studio.
- Will it be still released by Unique Leader? How do you like your partnership with them? Why do you think UL became such a big and important figure on Death Metal Scene?
- Yes the album will be released under Unique Leader again. This is in fact the last release we owe the record label and after that we’ll be free to take whatever path we want. I think Unique Leader had attracted very good names in the scene especially in the first decade of the new millenium. Many bands which were on its roster ended up in the folds of more reputable record labels. For example Decrepit Birth and Aeon just to mention a couple. It used to organize tours for its own bands like the Blood Letting US and Gutting Europe runs, which helped build a good reputation for the label.
- How many of the new tracks did you prepare for the upcoming CD? How could you describe the new material?
- The new album will contain roughly 40 minutes of Beheaded death metal. I see this album as a progression from Never to Dawn. There is also the input of Davide Billia on drums, which will definitely be something new. Beheaded has always had Chris Brincat behind the kit since its inception, since he was one of the founder members. So the drums department will definitely sound different. I interpret this album as being angrier than Never to Dawn. But all in all it has all the ingredients a Beheaded album should have: memorable riffs, a doze of old school death metal passages and slow heavier parts. We’re glad with the way things are turning out.
- Have you already chosen the album's title? How do you know that this or that name is exactly what you need for your new CD?
- Yes the album will be entitled ‘Beast Incarnate’. When we’re writing a new material we would already have a clear concept in mind of the whole album and the general direction we want to take the music and lyrics to. The chosen name reflects the general feel of the lyrics, music and artwork as well.
- Who is in charge of the cover? In general, do you cooperate closely with the artist regarding the whole concept and the final version or do you give him common directions and leave him to create?
- The cover has been entrusted to the capable hands of a South American artist. We would like to keep his identity as a secret for now. But once the album art will be released we will of course reveal who he is. Normally we give the artist a general idea of what we want, then go to and fro with sketches and amend as necessary. But of course it is the artist who comes out with the final art. We like it when the ideas he comes up with reflect what we want to project with the music and lyrics. That would mean that both the band and the artist are on the same wavelength. This was definitely the case with ‘Beast Incarnate’.
- What is that album about? Can you say that it's conceptual? Do you raise any vital topics and problems in your lyrics?
- The new album is based on the concept of Hell as seen in the diverse populations and religious beliefs. The place that one is sent to after leading a sinful life is interpreted differently by different religions and cultures. There is also the belief that god sent punishments on earth to express his anger and pointing out that people were living in sin. This is what happened with the various diseases that wiped out thousands of people during past centuries. We dealt with these subjects during the album composition from the lyrical and musical angle.
- How do you usually start working on the new tracks? What are the tracks from the upcoming CD that took you the longest to compose?
- This particular album was mainly composed by me and Frank, when he was still living in Malta. I would grab the guitar and start experimenting with riffs and passages. A certain part would then lead to other parts and we would already know what drum patterns would go with the various guitar parts. Frank would know what phrasing to put on the riffs at this stage. We had met Davide Billia in his home studio some time later and pinned down the drum patterns that would be needed in the different album parts. Being the awesome drummer he is, he did not find this rather strange way of music writing difficult.
- Do you have your favourite riffs that you always play with pleasure? Not necessary from the new tracks, but your previous songs also including.
- There a lot favourite ones. Usually when a riff makes it to the actual album, it would mean that I would have scrapped another five before I decided to keep that particular one. So many riffs sound the way they do, because I kept on hammering riffs after riffs till I was satisfied with how the part was sounding. Also our other ex-guitar players wrote great parts as well. I like what we did on the Never to Dawn album – like the riffs in ‘Elapsed in the Vortex of Extinction’, ‘Lament of a Sordid God’ and ‘Where Hours Etch their Name’. But all the albums have their memorable riffs and passages in my opinion.
- You have a new member, Simon Brigo, guitars. Tell us a bit about him. How did he join your team? Did he participate in creation of the new tracks?
- Simone Brigo is known for his work in Blasphemer (Italy). We had met the guys on several occasions and we clicked with the guy instantly. He’s an amazing guitar player and had been following Beheaded for a long time as well. Apart from playing in the same band we became very good friends as well, which I think is always a plus. Before we decided to bring Simone in the band we had played various tours and Festivals as a four piece with just me on guitars. But we felt that we lacked a bit of overall sound density with one guitar. Davide Billia, then suggested that we ask Simone to join us. That is in fact what happened and I can say that we are very pleased with the current line up.
- Also wanted to talk about Davide Billia, well known for his participance in such bands as Hour of Penance and Antropofagus. How did it happen that he joined Beheaded? Do you consider him being your permanent drummer or is he rather your temporary solution?
- Davide Billia is definitely our permanent drummer. When Chris Brincat decided that it was time to step aside, to concentrate on his family and business, we asked Davide to see if he was interested in joining Beheaded as our official drummer. He accepted and we began the collaboration. Davide is nowadays considered as an emerging force in the extreme drumming world. So yes, we’re very happy to have him in our line up. Apart from being a formidable drummer, he is also a friend and a great guy to be on tour with. Things are bound the get better from now on.
- You come from Malta, what could you say about your local underground? Does it exist? Do you feel that the fact that you live on a small island influences somehow the mood of the music you write? What do you do apart from playing in Beheaded?
- The local underground scene here is quite healthy considering the country’s and population size. There are a number of small festivals being organized as well, which is a good sign I think. I can mention XMA, Shellshock, Metal over Malta, and the doom oriented MDM. Unfortunately, since the band members are now scattered in various countries it became harder for us to play locally. Having said that, we are playing good festivals abroad and touring regularly. I definitely think that living in Malta has influenced the way we create music. ‘Never to Dawn’ was in fact based on this aspect and even the artwork was a reflection of this line of thought. The artwork depicts the island under siege by creatures and alien elements. This symbolizes the way Beheaded has been regarded on this land, where the religious culture and general mentality have supposedly acted as barriers to sideline this extreme art form. On the contrary I believe that the situation has probably fuelled the artistic aspect even more.
Apart from playing in Beheaded, I am usually following some type of academic course. I like to challenge myself and push my limits. I work in the environmental health field, but also like languages.
- Is "Maltese Falcon" your favourite movie?) And now seriously, what kind of movies do you like? Do you have any favourites?
I don’t remember ever watching that old movie. Movies are not really my thing. I like watching documentaries though and motor sports.
- What are your plans to support the new CD? Is there going to be any European tour as well?
- We hope to hit a string of Festivals in 2016 and try to tour as much as possible to promote the new album. We will aim to hit good European Festivals and possibly go outside the continent as well. Those are our aims at the moment.
- Thank you for this interview. Would you like to say a few words to our readers and your fans?
- Thank you for the interview Dima. Watch out for ‘Beast Incarnate’ and keep visiting our Facebook page often to update yourselves on tour dates, festivals etc. Anyone who wants to have a sneak preview of the new material can check out the video below
Thanks again and keep on supporting death metal.