With the creation of their debut record in 1997, Slovenian extreme metal five-piece Noctiferia forged their early sound with roots linked to a pagan black metal sound. With their gradual evolution, the band has made a transition into a more technical (yet chaotic), blackened death metal realm. The band has just released their new devastating full-length creation, ‘Death Culture’ (Listenable Records), upon the world and is devising a plan for domination. Forbidden Magazine caught up with Noctiferia bassist, Uros Lipovec and he shared the following insights on the band’s rough beginnings in Slovenia, the pope’s worthiness for a knuckle sandwich, and more!
First off, for those not familiar with the band, could you describe the events that led to the formation of Noctiferia?
Everything started back in elementary school, just for fun. Listening to old Sepultura, Metallica, Slayer, Morbid Angel, etc. We just felt the need to at least try to create the music that represented our lives as it still does today. We were 14 year-old-kids, playing covers on acoustic guitars and home-made drums. And in a couple of years, we bought real instruments and started to write our own music. So in 1996, we recorded the first demo and few months later, in 1997, had an opening gig for Enslaved and Absu. And that was officially the start of Noctiferia.
How hard was it for Noctiferia, being a metal band from Slovenia, to establish a place on the map of extreme metal?
Extremely hard! When we started the band, Slovenia was not even in the European union and only 6 years had passed since the communistic regime has fallen. So economically, things were really hard at that time. The second thing was that there was no well developed music industry in our country and if you were involved in the underground everything was a hundred times more difficult. So if you come from a country for which more than 90% of the world doesn’t know it even exists and if that same country has no music industry, and a lot of economical problems … it is simply extremely hard and enthusiastic.
How has the metal scene in Slovenia changed since the band’s formation?
Today is a completely different time than 15 years ago. Today, you can buy any piece of gear, software, any album etc…via internet or at the local store, so kids today have everything by the reach of their hands. And the result is a lot of new bands, more recording studios…Today, we also have metal magazines, metal radio shows and the world-known Metalcamp festival. So all in all, things are much better today than back in the day.
What bands or fellow musicians would you say are the biggest influence on the Noctiferia sound?
Influences change through time, we influence each other. But undeniably, old Sepultura and Morbid Angel were among the first and the strongest of our influences. And there are some other bands that we follow since the beginning, like Nocturnus, Dead can Dance, Samael, Bathory…In general, we are really open-minded about the music and are not limiting ourselves to certain genre or artists.
Outside of music, what other parts of human existence find their way into the band’s art?
Life for sure. Life as a whole. From spiritual to materialistic point of view. We create the music we do because of the feelings we have, and the feelings are the results of the life we live. Life, and the way of living it, are the main sources for our lyrics and basics for artwork.
How do you see the evolution of Noctiferia’s sound, and the band in general, from the release of the band’s first record in 1997 to this day?
I see it as a big step forward. As I said, we started as teenagers with huge desire to play metal. And in almost 15 years, we learned a lot about song writing, studio recording, touring and everything else that comes along. We were always exploring music, trying new things and new approaches. That’s one of the reasons why every album sounds different. As long as we have the energy we should use it to create and explore music not to repeat ourselves!
What led to the change in the band’s sound from the more black metal-influence of the early days, to what is heard on ‘Death Culture’?
I think It’s just musical development, additional influences and will to create something new, something that we haven’t done before. Our first record is in a vein of Bathory, Samael…The next one is more in a style of a Morbid Angel or Emperor. ‘Death Culture’ is a mix of most styles we like etc…but I think that the certain atmosphere is what we are after and I believe that we manage to create that Noctiferia atmosphere on every record.
The band worked with producer Peter Tagtgren (Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Celtic Frost) on the new record. How did that partnership come to be?
We met Peter at MetalCamp in 2004. He was kind enough to watch our show and give us comment on it. He said that he likes the music and that we are a very exotic band. He was one of the first people who supported us, and we were always fans of his work. So one thing led to another and in 2005, we flew to Sweden to do a mix of our previous album ‘Slovenska Morbida’. We were more than happy with the end result so for us, it was only natural to give him a call and ask him if he would be ready to work with us again on ‘Death Culture’. His answer was “I would love to…”. We just had to wait for Immortal to leave the Abyss studio and it was our turn. Peter also recommended to master with Jonas Kjellgren and the end result is perfect.
How about the rest of the writing and recording process for ‘Death Culture’, how did it work in comparison to the band’s past efforts?
It was pretty time-consuming process. First, we did a pre-production in Swiss in the home studio of Mass from Samael. After that we recorded all the instruments and other tracks in DB Recording studio and we sent the material to Peter for mix down. When he was finished, he suggested to us Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) for mastering as he was doing mastering for all the latest albums that Peter produced. We would be stupid not to say yes to this opportunity. So on this record, we were involved with more people than ever before and the whole writing process was great, ‘cause 80% of the record was done through jamming in our rehearsal place.
The cover photograph for ‘Death Culture’ really packs a punch, I must say. Care to share some details as to what it represents?
This is a conceptual album and the cover is part of that concept. I believe that people are spiritual beings and we should behave as such. Instead, we are busy with greed and power-tripping. I believe that capitalism is the cancer of our time! If you look at the cover, it shows a man pointing his hands toward the sun, towards the light, hope, victory…but his hands are covered in blood. Blood is representing all the sins, narrow-mindedness and ignorance of modern man. We are trying to be something more than we are, to achieve some kind of meaning in life, but we don’t realize that the path we walk on is covered in blood and we will not find the glory at the end of it, we’ll find what we deserve! So the cover combines all the issues that we talk about in our lyrics in very simple and direct way. It’s culture of death and everyone is a part of it!!
Speaking of alliances, what led to the band’s relationship with Listenable Records?
We’ve first met Laurent from Listenable in 2003 when touring with Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Marduk and Aborted. We’ve been in contact with them ever since, and finally the time was right for us to join our forces. I think it’s a great, open-minded label with great bands and releases and that we fit well into their catalogue. They are very supportive and we are very happy to be under the mark of Listenable records.
Having shared the stage with the likes of Danzig and Hypocrisy among others, what do you believe would be the career highlight of Noctiferia to this point?
For us, every new album and every new tour is a highlight of that time. But in general, I think signing with Listenable and releasing ‘Death Culture’ world-wide is currently the highlight for us. As far as the touring goes, every tour is an experience on its own and so far they all have been great, from UK tour with Hypocrisy, to EU tour with Samael or Mayhem…there is nothing like touring, waking up in new cities every day and playing different venues, stages, meeting new people. We hope to tour the States in the near future.
If Noctiferia could choose one figure in history to punch squarely in the face, who would it be and why?
There are many figures in history that would deserve more than just a punch in the face. Every single historic period has usually more than one “ambitious demonic figure”. But surely there are many more of them hidden in the background, pulling the strings. Most of them, we know nothing about. So if we were to choose someone, I guess we would choose one from our lifetime and that would be the pope Benedict XVI. Because he is one arrogant, ugly, lying motherfucker! He is like many before him, absolute opposite of what he represents. Same goes for Catholic Church! It is nothing but a manipulative, money-grabbing, international corporation. Pope and Church are Satan and Hell of this world!
With 2010 marking the 12-year anniversary of Noctiferia’s existence, what does the rest of the year have in store for the band? Touring, recording?
We are planning to do a second video for one of the songs from ‘Death Culture’ and to do as much touring in the fall and winter of 2010 as possible. We are still in the phase of promoting ‘Death Culture’, but on the other hand, we are jamming and gathering ideas for new album already.
It’s truly been a pleasure and Forbidden Magazine thanks you for your time! Any last words of wisdom or cryptic warnings you’d like to share with the masses?
Thank you for your support! Check out our new album ‘Death Culture’, you won’t regret it! All the best to American metalheadz, see you on the road! Cheers!
Photos: Andreas Torneburg