Latest Release: Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist)
Black metal bands are plentiful but those that use the genre as an extension of expressing their own convictions and artistic aspirations without compromise or reliance on shock value are not quite so commonplace. One such band that both develops their sound and maintains a never wavering sense of determination is US via Colombia two piece Inquisition. As the band will soon be down under on a tour here in January, supporting the hammering sonic force of Sweden’s Marduk, Loud Online managed to politely interrogate Inquisition mastermind, guitarist and song writer, Jason ‘Dagon’ Weirbach.
Your back catalogue is being re-released. Can you elaborate on the new artwork and if there are any extra tracks and so on?
As far as the format of the music, there are no special additions. It is how it has always been and how it is supposed to be. The external artwork is done by Paulo [Girardi] and that is something new that the label wanted to do. They mentioned that to avoid some distribution problems and headaches, to just give it a new wrap up with some art and then throw the original art inside. It is a good addition and overall will be a collective piece of artwork. Once you get all the albums together it will form one thing so it is not just something we did as filler.
When you look back on albums, do you think about improving things much at all?
You know, you always do that, I think that it is like anything as a human being. It is hard to not go deep on the subject because there is a parallel between music and life in general thinking about what could have been done better. What did I over do and what should I not have done? But you have to do that when you are creating. In this case, instead of life and just talking music, you’re going to write another album. So, the question is what do I want to do, where do I want to go and what I can offer that I have not offered before? So it is a challenge and you do that by looking at the strengths and the weaknesses of each album. That is a touchy subject because sometimes a weakness is not really a weakness. Sometimes that is where bands fail in trying to correct something they thought was a mistake such as with production or a style of riffing, leads or drumming style. Some things should be left alone and some things evolve and that is what I think makes music an art in itself. It is not because you are crating something but you are trying to see how you can evolve things but not change them and know when to at the time. It is kind of an intuition or a gut instinct that makes it an art form.
In that light, has having limited resources in being a two piece band actually helped you with your creativity?
You know that it does and it is limiting at the same time so there is a duality. The beauty of being minimalist is that the music lives and breathes in a certain way. If you have a violin and a cello it sounds different to a quartet. Then you can have an orchestra for a symphony if it gets bigger. Sometimes having more instruments doesn’t mean there are more harmonies because everyone can be playing in unison. There are times where some bands do not need to be a four or five piece from a technical point of view. One of the challenges of being a two piece is the limitation that you can only do so much with one instrument, meaning one guitar or two or drums within the rhythm section. The drums are a given for all bands because everyone needs a percussive element but one guitar bringing the melody to the ears becomes limiting. In the studio though, I want to keep things as live as possible and that is another art form. I always tell Incubus [Thomas Stevens – drummer] that I have this idea but it cannot be done live so what do we do? That is when you tell yourself that some songs need to be that way and don’t need to be played live. There is a lot of decision making to know where you are going as a two piece because you are limited more than saying having two guitars.
Do you think that your vocal style has developed in a way that would differentiate your sound from a lot of the other black metal bands?
Yeah, it has evolved a bit and I do it a little differently now. I want each album to have its own character. As we get older, the voice changes, I’m not twenty six anymore, I’ll be forty three in March but overall, of course, there is something unique about it, love it or hate it, we have our signature sound. You can only sound so different from other bands too. I think that is what some people forget about. It is like in death metal, you have a lot of growls out there and a lot of them sound the same but there are a few growlers that have their own signature sound and sometimes that is just luck. We don’t have 100% control over the physiological parts of our vocal cords. The voice you have is usually unique but when you start screaming or yelling like we do in metal, that signature aspect to your choice starts to get lost and that is why a lot of us in extreme music start to sound similar. I always hope that what little I can get out there that is unique does translate.
Lyrically, your most recent album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, is very much steeped in cosmology or at least the bleakness of the universe. How did that evolve given that when you were starting out I am presuming your lyrical motivations would have been inspired by similar things as say Sepultura? Do you spend a lot of time on lyrics to convey a message?
Ah, yes, very much. It is a whole different band now to the early days for the first chapter of the band. I put a lot of thought into the lyrics. I’d like to say that maybe lyrics are the soul of a song. Of course, you can say, ‘no, the music is because if there is no music then there is no song’ but a song can exist without the lyrics. Maybe the lyrics are what give an identity to a song to communicate more clearly what the song is about. That being said, I think it is important to put thought into your lyrics because it is a big personality factor or message for your song. Songs can communicate messages without lyrics but that is more of an emotional journey because you are letting your emotions translate what the song is letting you feel and think but with the lyrics, you’re telling people where you’re going and what you believe in. Lyrics should have thought.
Is there a similar mentality with your side project, 88MM?
Yeah, of course, I think that all music, no matter what you do, or how much feelings music can stir up in people, be it negative, positive, aggressive or passive, you should be very aware of what you are doing and why. I have always been clear that I don’t think it is fair to expect artists to fake anything with the fear of being judged in a negative way and threatening them with the possibility of destroying their career or personal lives simply because they want to create an art form that conveys emotions, stirs things up and makes people think.
What Inquisition album would you say represents having a vision for a project and then seeing it actually come to fruition?
That’s a very good question and the way you’re posing it is not simply asking, ‘what is my favourite album?’, it is a little of everything; which am I most proud of, which can I identify with the most and which one really represents the band? Every album does but I would be lying if I deny the fact that the latest album really encompasses everything that we’ve done. You’re going to have the old fans that will fight tooth and nail, asking, ‘how could you ever say that?’ but there’s one thing I want to make clear and I’ve rarely said this in an interview. I think fans make a big mistake sometimes by allowing the overall mix or production of an album to lead them into thinking that the songs are different. If stereo systems could somehow take the mix of the first album and put it on the new one, wouldn’t that be amazing? If you took the new album and ran it through the mix of the old album, it is not going to sound any different. I mean, yes, there will be a few things there as we now play tighter and faster, the vocals sound different and it is not drenched in effects. But overall I would say that because of that, the newest album is where everything came together; the topics, the aura of the album, the flow of the songs, the explosiveness and the expression. I never feared if something was too uplifting or not dark enough. There were no limits and Obscure Verses… really walks you through that universe that an Inquisition album brings you. What is unique is that it is not the same mood throughout the entire album. Really, that is what Inquisition has always been. It is about dynamics and emotional up and downs.
You’re touring Australia with Marduk soon. Does an equally veteran and well established band like that motivate you to become a better artist?
Absolutely and that is a brilliant question because there is a beauty to the underground scene or mentality that we should never, ever lose regardless of how big you get in your career. I think it applies to life too. One thing that you do in the underground is that you will play it with full passion. You are not doing it to meet schedules and deadlines. You are not writing to please a vast majority of people. You just want to do what you love and what you believe in. If people like it or don’t then fine but to a degree you do want to please people. When you play with other bands of the underground the vast majority have that same mentality. As things start to get bigger, there is a certain degree of healthy competition and I accentuate the word healthy because as you start to get bigger, you realise that you have to be more disciplined and tighten certain things up. When you start playing with bands like Marduk, you start to think that these are bands that are playing maybe two hundred shows a year. What you were doing at one time on the weekends or for sheer enjoyment and passion, while you’re at work, that is what they’re doing constantly and around the world. So they are highly refined at what they are doing so if you want to make this your career, it is not even a compromise, you need to get out of your comfort zone and tell yourself, ‘if we get better, that doesn’t mean we’re not underground anymore, it just means we want to get more skilled at what we do because now we are going to be playing with these other bands’ and that’s one of the things that we deal with and have accepted as part of growth. You want to be on top of things and show it when you perform. We are really motivated and really excited to soon get down to Australia. It is an incredible scene and a great country. The people there rule so we’re really happy to be touring there with Marduk. Take it easy.
Inquisition tours Australia next month:
12/1: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA
13/1: Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
14/1: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
16/1: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC**
17/1: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW
18/1: Crowbar, Brisbane QLD