The new album Vanitas sees the polish metallers In Twilight’s Embrace evolve into their own entity; taking a deathly and personal direction. This is after all the band’s darkest material to date, both lyrically and musically. A few weeks back i had the fortune to talk to the band and had a quite insightfull discussion. Check it out!
Hello, I welcome you to Metal Invader! And now let’s cut to the chase, hehe. Your new album Vanitas has a lot of black metal elements though you are a melodic death metal band. It seems that you found an exceptional balance. Is evolving an important factor to move forward musically?
Evolving is critical in anything one decides to put effort into, so if we are serious about what we do together as In Twilight’s Embrace, there is no other way for us to exist than to evolve. Evolution is a minimum condition for us to feel that making music still makes sense. Sometimes, creating requires major change in mindset or tools you employ, so revolutions may happen, though I feel it’s still ahead of us.
Take us through the process of writing and recording. What inspires you?
Bands we grew up on, bands we got to know later, music that is yet still to be discovered. This is what I would call a face-value inspiration. Then of course profound life events, books we read, films we watch. Seclusion. When it comes to lyrics on “Vanitas”, a major part of them was inspired by the talks I had with various people over the last years. As soon as I know the lyrical direction, I tell the other guys which direction would probably be the most proper one music-wise, but there’s no guarantee we stay the course until the end of the writing process.
Poland is a very religious country and the majority of the population adheres to Christianity. Are you religious yourselves or do you find religion a disease and I’m asking that on the account of ‘Vanitas’ cover featuring a couple with crosses on hand.
I was baptized like the vast majority of my friends, I attended the first communion like most of them, but that’s it I would say. I’m no religious person, however I definitely consider myself a spiritual guy. Religion, historic cults, people’s beliefs, folklore and tradition have been inspiring me for the most part of my life and have influenced my education, artistic ambitions and the way of life. In an extremely secular reality of the modern age, I find it crucial to have a fair amount of profoundness in life in order to make it something meaningful and exciting. Otherwise, you get caught in the eat-fuck-shit-sleep scheme, the world no longer holds any mystery and everything seems to be well-explained and calculated even if it’s not. If you are following what I say, you may have probably noticed that I don’t criticize holding religious beliefs per se. On the contrary, I believe they have the power to benefit an individual. However, problems start when beliefs are being institutionalized and some people try to force them upon others. As for “Vanitas” cover the crosses rather highlight the deathly atmosphere of the photograph, than express any kind of sentiment or reluctance towards Christianity.
In your previous EP ‘Trembling’ you explored your punk roots and also covered a song from polish hardcore/punk legends Armia. How come you chose this band and that song in particular?
Armia has been one of the most unique bands of the Polish independent scene in the last few decades. Like another landmark band group from Poland – Siekiera, they managed to quickly escape the typical hardcore punk sound by adding such elements as horns and some acoustic guitars. Sometimes referred to as the “Polish Killing Joke” the band merged different musical spirits – besides the Coleman-influenced gothic mood, there was also lots of folk, Dead Can Dance or even King Crimson touches to what they were doing at the early stage of their career. Listening to their second album “Legenda”, featuring the song “Opowieść zimowa” which we have covered had always been an experience comparable with this of hearing Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” or “Oddech Wymarłych Światów” by Kat. The same dense, profound and pretty graphic darkness. Then there’s another side to this – the amazing lyrics of Tomasz Budzyński, highly influenced by Arthur Rimbaud, Samuel Beckett. No one had written in such manner before.
Another question that I have for this EP is how come you didn’t release a full length right after The Grim Muse especially with the dynamic that its success gave you?
The tracks from “Trembling” were recorded during the same sessions “The Grim Muse” was. However, they had something distinct about them which made them deserve a separate outing. I was thinking about this since the very beginning of the recording session. I don’t know… Perhaps it was for the more rock’n’roll nature of these songs? Plus I didn’t want to put a cover song on the full length album. Either way the special release, which “Trembling” is, made sense at that moment.
The Grim Muse was one of the most significant albums of 2015 at least personally speaking. Was there any preoccupation that you might not reach this album’s level. How difficult is for a band to work on a successor of a critically acclaimed album?
No, there was no such preoccupation this time. „The Grim Muse” is a good album, although created over a very long period of time. It took us four years to write this one. With the new one, I think we needed a bit more than a year to wrap up the songwriting. It was also pretty clear from the very beginning that we were working on something different than the previous record. That it was gonna be much darker, however in many ways more direct than the album three. And this is precisely what I consider the biggest strength of „Vanitas”. A direct, sometimes even punk-fuelled, yet quite multi-faceted sonic assault.
Poland is really a mother land for new music gems in the extreme music scene. What do you thing makes this country so special?
It’s hard for me to say being an insider, but I think many of the bands out here who really grew big enough to actually mean something in the wider musical landscape possess the DIY attitude which is to blame for their success to a certain extent. Sometimes it means to withstand hardships, deal with financial or performative limitations, but it is these limitations which shape the character of their art. We had had no easy access to even a medium-class gear until 2000 something. Most of the guys who are now in bands simply could not afford it 10 years ago or something.
Though Poland is a country that in world war II suffered a lot from the fascist forces there is a great far right movement and a great deal of NS music born out of polish groups. Why do you think that phenomenon is occurring?
I think what had once been born of the need of juvenile controversy and shock value in the early 90’s, has been taken too seriously by some. They took it to ridiculous levels, showing that the ability to learn from history is still a thing many miss. All these declarations of war on race traitors, all these disguised Swastikas in logos, all these rants about white supremacy – this is just a brilliant example of advanced mind fuckery.
You are working once again with Arachnophobia Records. I guess this partnership works very well for you?
Definitely. Krzysztof, the label’s owner is one of the most dedicated and honest people in the Polish metal underground. Passionate about every single detail of the release, always curious about the band’s vision. The more vision we have – the more stoked he is.
We are living in the social media and YouTube era. How important is really for a band in order to reach as many listeners out there the usage of those instruments?
I think it’s crucial nowadays to have these tools and be able to use them. On the other hand, it’s pretty fucked up that the social media reduce all the band’s activity to pure advertising. We try to be cautious about what we publish on Facebook. Most of it has to be informative in the first place or at least possess some functional value. To be honest, I admire bands who do very little social media or refrain from using them at all, while still being able to succeed – such as Polish groups Mgła and Furia.
Are you going to offer us any videos?
We’ve recently shot one to the song “As Future Evaporates”. To make it happen, we had traveled to the Western Pomerania region of Poland, which is the place I come from. It is the land of woods and lakes, with hauntingly beautiful open spaces which give you a perfect opportunity to enjoy the silence and solitude. The very location where the picture was shot is located on a small island on the biggest lake in the area. There is no electric energy around, so we had to full synchronize our schedule with the sunlight. I return there every two or three years to feel fully at peace with myself.
The extreme music scene is quite a misogynistic place. Artists like Myrkur for example are being bullied not because their music is not worthy of admiration but because she invaded a genre like, black metal that women are not suppose enter. Do you think that this whole scenery is changing? How things are in Poland for female artists?
You can view things the way you mentioned or the opposite. Well, if you look at the entire metal scene, it has always been dominated by guys. I, however, would not blame it on any kind of reluctance towards women or some alpha male virus. It’s just been this way for years, but can change every moment. The example of the group Obscure Sphinx and their singer Wielebna putting on a huge stage show is the first one that comes to my mind and I think the most prominent one.
Vanitas is an album about death and confronting the pain of losing friends and family. How much did the writing process helped you with the grief?
Well, I have to correct this notion a bit. Death of several people – not only my relatives and friends, but also some more “distant” persons which I somehow felt connected to – was merely an impulse for further conclusions and the album’s leitmotiv, which is the elimination of depth and profoundness from our daily routine. Which is not giving a fuck about what will be left of us. So the grief and bereavement was something I had to go through on my own.
Cyprian stated that “death is an opportunity to ask questions about the here and now, and what kind of legacy – if any at all – we are possibly leaving”. Did you find the answers you were looking for and do you think that your albums so far is a legacy that you would feel proud leaving behind?
“Vanitas” definitely is the one we all are proud of.
Do you have any plans for a tour/mini-tour?
Time will tell, we have some initial plans for 2018. Once they are clarified, they will be announced. A couple of shows are already sure, the others are still waiting for the details to be agreed upon.
Can we hope seeing you in Greece?
Hope so. Keep your fingers crossed! Would love to play in the country of Vangelis, Rotting Christ and Dead Congregation!
The closing is yours, i thank you for this interview and hope to talk to you soon.
Thanks for showing interest in the band, insightful questions and all the best.