There's a new entrant in the progressive/technical death metal world, and that band is Centaurus-A from Germany. Their new release on Listenable Records, Side Effects Expected, is a melodic collection of aggressive, catchy, and complex death metal, sure to catch on with fans of the more adventurous side of the extreme metal genre. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with guitarist and founder Maik Matanovic recently to talk about the new CD, the history of the band, and what the future holds for this promising band.
SoT: Can you give us a little history of the band, how you all came to meet, previous bands you were with, influences, etc.?
Maik: Our band history goes back into the year 2000 when CENTAURUS-A was formed by myself Maik Matanovic (guitar), Patrick Schroeder (drums) and Michael Ahlgrimm (bass/backing vocals). Only a few months later, the demo "Last step Line" containing the band's first songs, was recorded. With the same line-up, CENTAURUS-A went on to write new songs and recorded its second demo entitled "Nimbus" in 2002, as well as started playing the first live shows supported by a session singer.
In 2003, the band's line-up was completed with guitarist Hernan Martinez and permanent vocalist Johannes "Jojo" Henke. This was a great leap forward and CENTAURUS-A continued to develop its unique and advanced mix of technical Death/Thrash Metal. We wrote new songs which were released on the first studio-recorded demo "Narcotic" and got positive feedback and reviews from fans and the metal press. In the following years, we played numerous gigs all over Germany. The time was ripe for next step: recording our debut album. And here we are.
Everybody made his experiences with one or two bands or projects before CENTAURUS-A. and is influenced by various metal genres like Death, Thrash, Melodic, Progressive, Metal and Grindcore. But everybody is listening also to non metal genres and brings his own style into the band.
SoT: Work started on the new CD Side Effects Expected back in 2007-how come it took so long to come out with the finished product that is now available on Listenable Records?
Maik: The recording of the album took place in several sessions in the HANSEN STUDIOS in Denmark. We started with recording the drums in April 2007, the guitar, bass and vocal tracks were laid down in September and the entire album including mixing and mastering was then finalized in early 2008. The main reason for the different recording sessions was the fully booked HANSEN STUDIOS at that time. Looking back, it was advantageous for us because we were able to prepare each recording session carefully and you work more efficient, focused and concentrated for few days, rather than over 2-3 weeks.
SoT: The music on the new CD is melodic, yet very heavy and at times pretty technical. Technical death metal seems to be all the rage these days-how do you feel Centaurus-A stacks up against some of the other young bands on the scene that are also mixing ultra complexity with death metal?
Maik: Yeah, especially over the last years some good technical death metal bands were coming out. But, it always depends which band you are talking about, and honestly we feel not to be part of a new rising scene…On the one hand it's very cool to be mentioned in the same breath with well-kown and established bands that we appreciate very much. On the other hand we don't want be noticed as one of the many newcomers, because we think CENTAURUS-A has its own and unique style that is oustanding a bit of the mass.
SoT: Tunes like Praying Mantis, Narcotic, and Dripping Red Canvas are quite catchy, yet filled with plenty of brutality and progressive arrangements. How hard is it to write memorable songs that also push the envelope that extreme metal fans seem to always want?
Maik: Yes, it's not easy and very time intensive. You always have to find the right balance. On the one hand we want to have memorable songs, on other hand we have to take care that you don't get the whole album in yours ears and get bored after listening few times. Referring to this, a very extensive challenge is to arrange your parts and give the song a structure. Build up the suspense, introducing special parts, slow down the tempo…because it's not enough if every crossover to the next part sounds fine. The song as a whole has to stand for something, should leave a mark and never get bored.
SoT: Seeing as the songs on the new CD are now a few years old, have you written any new material for a follow up?
Maik: Yes, we have two songs nearly finished and also a lot of basic ideas for more stuff. You're right, the songwriting process for SIDE EFFECTS EXPECTED were finished shortly before starting the recordings in early 2007. But we were only focussed on the recording for a whole year due to the fact that we recorded in several sessions and finished the album in early 2008. Then we needed some time to find the right label and preparing the release. In this period we didn't have enough time and especially we had not a clear head for working on new songs. As for now…we will write new stuff, when there is time left. But the main priority for this year is to play a lot of shows to promote our album.
soT: What about touring? Is the band going to be taking Side Effects Expected out on the road this year?
Maik: We are currently working on a small european tour. There are just basic talks in the moment and we hope to make this happen. Furthermore we'd love to play also outside of Europe but don't know if there is a chance this year.
SoT: There seems to be a healthy metal scene in Germany these days-what other bands from your country do you follow or are friendly with?
Maik: No doubt, german death metal icons are NECROPHAGIST. There are a lot of bands we played with and we're friends with. Just check out SINNERS BLEED, JACK SLATER and IRATE ARCHITECT.
SoT: Has the band been contacted to perform at any of the European metal festivals this summer?
Maik: Yes, we will play on LEGACYFEST in Germany and METALCAMP in Slovenia. We are looking forward, because these are great opportunities to present our songs to a bigger crowd and this will be the biggest shows for us so far.
SoT: How would you descibe the music of Centaurus-A to a metal fan who has never heard your music before?
Maik: To describe in a few words, I would say CENTAURUS-A makes technical but catchy death metal with melodic influences. A special characteristic is our mix of different metal styles like death, thrash, grindcore. Many bands don't get out of this genre-typicall limits. We don't care about these limits and furthermore add some none metal influences.
SoT: What are some of you favorite songs on the new CD and why?
Maik: I think all songs on the album are very strong and ervery song has it's own characteristic. But to mention some songs…THE PRAYING MANTIS is the most brutal song, THE EASE an instrumental track with a really great theme and the most melodic track. Furthermore there are DROP OFF, MORNING TREMBLE, DRIPPING RED CANVAS, ARSON. Great live tracks are SELFMADE CAGE, RESISTANCE AIN'T FUTILE. And to complete the full track listing , I have to mention that NARCOTIC and INCIDENT / ACCIDENT are great songs, too.
SoT: What are the short/long term plans for the band for 2009 and into 2010?
Maik: For now the main priority is definitly to promote our album. That means to play live as much as possible. Maybe we will play a small tour later this year, as told before and hopefully we can jump on another tour with a well-know band. In 2010 we should we able to finish the songwriting for the next album.
Thank you very much for the interview and give us the chance to introduce CENTAURUS-A to your readers. Check out our websites www.centaurus-a.de and www.mysapce.com/centaurusa.
(Click here to read our review of Side Effects Expected)