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MORTIFER – Interview with Jonathan

Horror rules! Morituri te salutant!

In 1996 Jonathan decided to create the band MORTIFER. Other members of the band were searched. In 1996 guitarist Jonathan decided to found the band MORTIFER. Other members of the band were searched.
MORTIFER has grown as the drummer Matthias joined. In October 1998, they did their first gig (AT THE STAKE II), and played raw melodic Black Metal together with bassist Tom (GODLESS OPHIDIAN). After a lot of rehearsing and members, keyboard-player Dries joined them in 1999.
Their style was smoothly changing to Symphonic Horror Metal.
Early 2000 they became complete when bassist Roger joined in.
In 2001 they recorded their first CD Damned after Dying which was a great experience for the band members.

MORTIFER means “bringer of Death”. The concept of MORTIFER is Death. Then we expect a band to play Death Metal, but MORTIFER is everything but Death Metal. Do you think Death Metal is a wrong tag for the genre that is called so? As you are so fascinated by death, would you like to work in a morgue? Or as a surgeon? What profession that deals with death a lot would you like to do?

No, Death is a very wide subject. Most Death Metal bands are about corpses, blood and gore…. We make music that expresses a psychological Horror sphere. Our music is about the spiritual side of Death.

Yes certainly for me, I already work in an undertaker’s business and I think it is great! I am studying to become an undertaker myself now. The interest in Death is from childhood, it is in the blood.

Damned after Dying strongly reminds me of MOONSPELL‘s Wolfheart. Did people tell you this before? Do you like that album? Was it of any influence to MORTIFER? What do you think of MOONSPELL and their evolution? I think the Black Metal vocals resemble ANCIENT. What do you think of ANCIENT? And of their evolution? Could you tell us more about Damned after Dying? How is it selling?

A few did. I like a few songs on the album. No, MOONSPELL was not an influence, we do not think of any band at all when we make our music. I think you are automatically influenced by some music you listen to, but not on purpose, it is in our subconsciousness. I was not aware of the fact that some parts were in the style of MOONSPELL until someone told me (just about the clean vocals) and indeed I think in some parts there is resemblance to it. If they want that evolution, they must do what they like to do. I think nobody can adjudge a band because they change their style. You can like it or not, that is all. I do not buy the albums of MOONSPELL, I have heard Wolfheart and like a few songs on the album and one song of the first.

There are 2 albums of ANCIENT that I have got (The Canian Chronicle and Mad Grandiose Blood Fiends). I think they are pretty good but not superb. I have not heard their new stuff yet.

Damned after Dying is a whole of 8 parts that expresses different feelings of spirits that in most cases do not find rest and are able to see the stupid behaviour of humanity and at the same time the mysterious spheres of immaterial entities. We try to open the eyes of people and make them realise the deeper values of life by trying to understand a part of Death made in a concept of Horror-themes.

It sells pretty well.

In the beginning played raw melodic Black Metal. Due to being fed up with it and the coming of a keyboard-player, the style changed substantially. Do you consider Black Metal as a finished chapter in the history of MORTIFER? Do the band members still listen to Black Metal?

No, there will always be Black influences in our music because we express envy, hatred, anger… too. Also for the climax of Horror it is needed to play fast.

Each of us is listening to different styles of music (not computer made sounds!!), but we all listen to Black Metal too, but it is selected.

MORTIFER uses a violin. One of the first bands to use a violin in Metal must have been MY DYING BRIDE, I suppose. Why do you think a violin fits in Metal? What is your opinion on MY DYING BRIDE?

When we make our songs, we do not start with a thought to play Metal. It is obvious with a distortion on the guitar it becomes Metal in a Horror style. But it is not a necessity to create a specific genre. In the first place we make “music” as an utterance of our feelings and thoughts. The name of a style is irrelevant. In our music the violin is used to create the sound of sadness. There are a lot of other great classical instruments that can be used to create a Horror and Deadly atmosphere and why wouldn’t they fit in the Metal genre?

I am not really familiar with MY DYING BRIDE so I cannot give my opinion.

The album was recorded at DYPRINS. Are you glad with the result and the co-operation? How do you look back on the days in the studio? How many days did the recordings take? How would you describe one day? What do you prefer, studio or stage? Can I be so impolite to ask how much a studio like DYPRINS charges? ILL FARES THE LAND also recorded their demo there. What do you think of ILL FARES THE LAND?

It was nice to work with the producer and we are glad with the result. They are nice people and we had a good time there. You must know that bands have a lot of influence in how an album is recorded and mixed. We say what we like to have and they carry it out, so it is done the way we wanted.

The recordings lasted all together about 7 days, 12 hours a day. The days were spread over 2 months.

1 day: a lot of hard work, beer, cigarettes and fun.

We like them both the same, in the studio you can make your work as perfect as possible and on stage there is the adrenaline of the gig and the audience that gives us satisfaction.

The price depends of what you want to have (e.g.: demo, CD, remix…) It is different for everyone.

I have never heard about ILL FARES THE LAND so again I cannot give you my opinion.

I read MORTIFER is responsible for the artwork. I think it is great! Who drew it? Jonathan? Who drew the magnificent logo by the way? Did one of you do a graphic education/job? MORTIFER is also responsible for its own website, I believe. Who took care of that? Any other graphic works you did?

We do not really know who drew it, we have taken it from a book, it is a picture of the real painting. We have searched, but did not find anything.

The logo was made by Dries and me, the website by Dries. Neither of us have had a graphic education or job and no other graphics were made.

Quite remarkable is the fact that Mortanius wrote all lyrics, but he is not a member of the band. Who is he? Tell me more about the lyrics (content, style). I suppose death is the main topic?

Mortanius is the mysterious being with the scythe, more I cannot say…

The lyrics are mainly about Ghosts that find no rest, haunted places and other dark mysteries of Death. There is always a message in them, its interpretation is different for everyone. For us the lyrics are as important as the music is.

MORTIFER puts emotions in their lyrics and music. It takes a lot of guts to speak about feelings in an evil only scene and to use keyboards in a scene that accuses bands using keyboards of being trendies copying CRADLE OF FILTH and DIMMU BORGIR. What is your opinion on the COF/DB-boycott? Did MORTIFER get opponents/criticism because of the use of keyboards? What do you think of the true/evil Black Metal only attitude?

I think it is stupid, if you listen to a band and it does not compare with your thoughts and/or feelings do not listen to it and find something else. There is no reason to boycott any band at all.

We did not get opponents yet and we do not care anyway. Nobody said anything bad about us changing to a different style.

I do not like extreme opinions. I think all that “Satan-stuff” and political things are crap for 14-15 year old kids, at that age it seems cool. As you grow older you (normally!!) realise that it is big bullsh!t and does not mean anything at all. They can believe and do whatever they want, as long as people leave us alone with stuff like that, we do not care.

I read in SCELDELANT the rehearsal place is a dark crypt under the church. Is this true? Are you still playing there? How is the atmosphere? Did you get any comments of the priests or suchlike?

We play in a dark crypt under a church indeed and we still play there. It has a great atmosphere, a real dungeon far away from mankind. The priest acts normal, he does not have a problem with us at all.

Tell us about the Grim Reaper Act.

This is something we do not do often, only as the place and time let us to. It is an image of the essence of our music and thoughts. It is a live act and happens before our concert to get in the perfect Horror-atmosphere. He comes on stage, looks into the audience, raises his scythe and moves it towards them (like a blessing) to make clear that he will get them all… .

React on:

SCELDELANT and the first compilation tape

Nice magazine, nice guys and the compilation is a good initiative.

TSWAERT DER DUUSTERNESSE

Nice magazine.

AT THE STAKE

A great Metal fest in honour of Frederic Claudisse (R.I.P.) who used to play in the bands DICHROMATIC and GODLESS OPHIDIAN.

VELOROCK

Great initiative for Oostende, keeps Metal alive.

BBQ Metal Café Oostende

The place to be for Metal people in Oostende, it is really great!

Funeral Fog

A song of MAYHEM that we used to play in honour of the deaths of Dead and Euronymous.

How is the scene at the coastal area of Flanders? I read the following names in your thanks-list: ACHYRONTHIA, DUST, RECKLESS, GODLESS OPHIDIAN. Any other bands, zines, labels, clubs etc. we should know of? Tell us more about these bands. DUST split up, am I right?

There are quite a lot of Metal fans around the coast and also a few bands. ACHYRONTHIA, DENIZEN and RECKLESS are Heavy Metal bands. DUST split up indeed, they were a Death Metal band. One of them plays in ABORTED now. GODLESS OPHIDIAN – now the guys started a new band called CATHUBODUA – played symphonic Black Metal.

MORTIFER claims to play Symphonic Horror Metal. If you had to label MORTIFER with existing styles, how would the style-description sound like? The tag Symphonic Horror Metal would also fit MORGUL and Belgian URN OF MIGHT, in my opinion. What do you think of their music?

Something as Dark Black Gothic Metal.

You forgot TARTAROS, a fantastic band! MORGUL is a great band, I like their music a lot. There should be more bands that play such kind of Horror, still in a different way of course. I do not know the band URN OF MIGHT.

Compose the ultimate album:

vocals: Dead (MORBID, TORMENTOR, MAYHEM)
lead guitar: The one of ARCTURUS (I think he is called August)
rhythm guitar: Astennu (DIMMU BORGIR, CARPE TENEBRUM)
bass: Alex Webster (CANNIBAL CORPSE)
drums: Hellhammer (MAYHEM, THE KOVENANT, ARCTURUS)
label: CENTURY MEDIA
studio: The Grief Memorial Hall
medium: CD

What is your opinion on the fact that demos are released on CDs nowadays instead of on tape?

It is confusing, because if an unknown band records a full-CD like us, they all think it is a demo while it is not demo-quality at all and it costs a lot more.

Is internet a good or a bad thing for the underground?

The internet is a very good thing for everyone.

Anything else?

Horror rules! Morituri te salutant. Dark Greetings. MORTIFER.

Thanks Jonathan & MORTIFER!

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