Some dark-metal bands leave their performance on the stage. For example, the members of Evergrey may look ready to rip your face off when playing, but on the tour bus, in interviews and hanging out with fans, the Swedes seem like regular guys. Then there's Cemetery of Scream, among the latest progressive Polish bands to find an international audience.
This veteran group (whose demos date back to 1993) boasts five outstanding musicians and one hell of a vocalist, whose slightly gruff delivery will garner Cemetery of Scream comparisons to Metallica and Mercenary, as well as several darker bands which guitarist Marcin Piwowarczyk reeled off to Sea of Tranquility senior editor Michael Popke. Having evolved from what label Metal Mind Productions describes as a "mystical symphonic doom death" band with vast keyboards, Cemetery of Scream has endured multiple lineup changes and now, with the band's latest album, The Event Horizon, is firmly rooted in clean-vocal territory with intelligent lyrics that don't read as if they've been translated from a Polish-to-English pocket dictionary.
Read on for the full interview!
It's not a concept album, but it flows like one both musically and thematically. "Prophet" is about the apocalypse, and "Ganges" deals with the alien culture of India, two seemingly disparate ideas held together by atmospheric aggression and melodic melancholy. Not to mention a foreboding sense of doomsday despair, which hovers like a storm cloud over Piwowarczyk's comments as he shares insight into Cemetery of Scream's dark psyche.
Sea of Tranquility: What is the significance of the name Cemetery of Scream?
Marcin Piwowarczyk: A cemetery is the final place we find ourselves in, after we die. And the silence, which follows, sounds like a scream for what's gone forever and will never return. It's the last scream. So, this scream is essential, and you can hear it in every cemetery provided that you listen to the silence very carefully.
SoT: How and why did the band's sound evolve from "mystical symphonic doom death" metal to what it is today?
MP: We've always stuck to our principle of creative evolution that is, we still play the same genre of music, but it's more contemporary and updated with every single album we release. What you can find omnipresent on each record is this melancholic sound, filled with gloom, longing and darkness. And we do tend to be mystical. The style we promote is just Cemetery of Scream, and nothing else. So, as to our latest CD, one might say that it's like "mystical symphonic doom death," with some more colorful shades of melancholy added to the whole thing.
SoT:What are Cemetery of Scream's top five musical influences. And to what bands is Cemetery of Scream most often compared?
MP: Among our faves you can find bands such as Katatonia, Anathema, Diary of Dreams, My Dying Bride, Clan of Xymox, Crematory and Solitude Aeternus. These bands are also the ones we're most frequently compared to.
SoT: One of the things that strikes me about The Event Horizon is that the album doesn't indulge in typical dark-metal clichιs, and the female vocals are not overused (as they are in other bands). Did you make a conscious effort to stand out from the pack, or did everything just sort of fall into place naturally?
MP: Oh, thank you. That's a very precise comment. There's no particular effort on our part to stand out from the pack, because everything we do is a natural swing of things. We develop our own manner of playing, and it's always our teamwork that results in the final effect. We've never wanted any sort of compromise with what's currently going on in the metal scene. We remain independent, and that's why we release our albums so irregularly. The female vocals on our latest product are very discrete, but they're important, too. Our songstress is a very insane girl. She can sing "ethnic vocals" as well as jazz and gospel. And, apart from all that, she's so sexy and beautiful
SoT: I noticed that the lyrics on The Event Horizon were written by somebody who is not in the band: Zdzislaw "The Bat" Zabierzewski? Who is that? Did he also write the lyrics for earlier albums?
MP: "The Bat" has been our friend since the very beginning of the band. He wrote some of the lyrics for Fin de Siecle and Prelude to a Sentimental Journey. Knowing his darkly dedicated mind, we decided to ask him to write all the lyrics for the new album. He did his best in order to convey the images, visions and general message we wanted to include. He can sense Cemetery of Scream's aura, and we trust him every time.
SoT: How does having an outside lyricist affect Cemetery of Scream's songwriting process?
MP: If it affects our songwriting process in any way, it's always for the better. And you must still remember that "The Bat" is no outsider to us. Just the opposite, he's certainly one of us! Let's be frank: We created the new album in symbiosis with "The Bat," and you should also know that he is a great expert on Aleister Crowley's poetry, which seems so close to our feelings.
SoT: Off stage, are band members happier than their music suggests?
MP: Unfortunately, we're not living on our music
yet. We're just regular guys who have to go to work and curse every ordinary day like others do. But as much as we can, we run away from our daily bread and totally indulge in music. We live spiritually and otherworldly, without pretending to be different from what we are. It's simply the call of the dark!
SoT: What kind of response has the album received outside of Poland?
MP: So far, all the foreign response to our album has never been better. People write us e-mails, radio broadcasters and music press journalists call us almost every day, and we cannot find enough time to answer those interviews! We're really surprised and shocked to see how much interest we attract nowadays.
SoT: The Polish progressive-music scene has been making an international impact, with bands like Riverside, Satellite, Sandstone and Cemetery of Scream. And of course, Collage was from Poland, and many non-Polish bands film live DVDs in Poland. Why is that country so friendly to progressive music?
MP: Well, it's hard to tell. We can only speak for ourselves, and if there are any prog-rock influences in our music, they apparently come from Porcupine Tree's atmosphere.
SoT: What's next for Cemetery of Scream?
MP: Time will tell. The answer to this question is included in the last song called "Where Next?" The traveler must take a rest before he decides where he's heading next.
SoT: Good luck with that decision. Thanks for your time, and congratulations again on The Event Horizon.
MP: Thanks a million for this interview, and a big howdy to you all! Keep the faith, and stay dark, dear brothers and sisters in magick. The Second Coming is at hand
(Click here to read our review of The Event Horizon)