Thursday, January 17, 2019

interview: Malphas

Malphas is melodic extreme metal from the city of Philadelphia, U.S.A. The 39th Spirit is the name of their debut full-length album on Via Nocturna (Poland). Some years ago they released an EP called The Conjuring (2015), and that’s when their name began to make the rounds more broadly. This interview takes up the music and lyrics of the most recent album. The band also reveals some plans for the future.
What has it been like for your band to get to the point of your debut album?
The 39th Spirit is a culmination of our first five years together as a band. We recorded a rough demo back in 2013 and came back in 2015 with our first professional release, The Conjuring EP. The EP served as a blueprint which we built upon to create The 39th Spirit. It’s been a long road and is still a long road ahead, but we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished and have great optimism going forward from here.
Eric Dunleavy plays the drums, Paul DeSanctis does vocals and guitars, and Damian DiFrancesco plays guitars. Who played bass and keyboards on the album?
We’ve had a revolving door at bass for the entirety of the band’s history. Dave Gugleilmi was our founding bassist, but he left in 2016. Dallas Lutz played with us for a year and recorded bass on the album, but quit the band right before we went on tour with Tengger Cavalry in Summer 2017. We didn’t want to lose the opportunity, so we had to run the bass through the PA with the live tracks. Jon Sutherland (Seraph in Travail) recently joined us on bass, and is a great fit for us musically. We’re excited to have him on board, along with our new violinist Thuy Nguyen. The keyboards on the album were programmed using Metropolis Ark 1.
Has Malphas been playing shows around the Philadelphia area?
We’ve played consistently around the Philadelphia area the past 5 years and have done two tours now. We’re definitely excited to get back on the road with our new album and lineup. We’ve already been playing some of the songs from the album live the past couple of years and received some great feedback on the Tengger tour. We played the album in its entirety at our CD release show December 7th.
There are some six bands named Malphas. Have you had any legal problems with the name?
There were only two bands with the name at the time we started up, one of them being inactive for more than 20 years. The other is a French band whose EP title was the same as our album, but have no clue if they’re still active or not. Our album is simply a story about Malphas who is the 39th goetic spirit. None of our music is plagiarized from their EP. Over the years we noticed more bands named Malphas surfacing, so we obtained the trademark. We now own the rights to the name; none of the other bands would have a leg to stand on in trying to sue us. We’re cool with them continuing to release music, though.
How much did you know about recording music when the band began?
It’s been a learning curve every step of the way. Our demo back in 2013 was very raw, but we came back in 2015 with a more polished product in our EP. We took another step forward with The 39th Spirit, but are setting our sights even higher with album 2, which we are soon to begin preproduction on. It will be our best sounding release yet, without a doubt.
What has happened to the band’s profile internationally now that you have a foot in Europe with Via Nocturna?
Having distribution always makes things easier. Being signed has indeed turned some heads and helped us out a bit. We’re planning to come over to Europe for a tour on this album cycle, so keep an eye out for us.
Do you have more Polish fans now?!
I guess we’ll find out when we play there ;)
Metal Archives says that your lyrics revolve around demonology. Can you tell us the story of Malphas the demon and how the story fits in the world of demonology and the occult in general?
In demonology, Malphas is the 39th of the 72 goetic spirits in the Key of Solomon. He commands 40 legions of demons, builds high towers, and brings artificers together. He will appear as a crow when summoned and speak in a hoarse voice. He will give good familiars and accept a sacrifice graciously, but then will deceive the conjuror. The Conjuring EP and The 39th Spirit are a story about a man who encounters Malphas and forms a pact to sacrifice his life to lead Malphas’ armies against the Church in the afterlife. The events in the afterlife influence the real world - which is set in a dystopian future plagued with natural disaster and economic recession.
How would you describe your interest in the occult? Does Malphas have a particular political objective?
I don’t practice the occult, but find things like demonology and astrology interesting. Demons represent the dark side of humanity; greed, envy, lust, hate, gluttony, etc. You can observe that in looking at paintings of some of them. Pretty scary stuff. Doctor Faustus was a particularly significant influence on the story - Malphas plays a role similar to Mephistopheles. This is referenced in Red Constellations when Man’s corruption by Malphas in taking his own life is lamented. Malphas has no political or religious allegiance; his simple objective is to obtain power for himself. He deceives atheists into thinking they’re fighting for a noble cause in destroying religion, but Malphas only wishes to enforce his own regime. This why at the album’s conclusion, Malphas is killed by Man; as Man understands he has been deceived. Now he must inherit the ashes and assume responsibility for what he’s destroyed. These concepts will continue to be expanded upon in album 2. Though our music is influenced by religious and political themes, our lyrics don’t have an agenda. We’re simply telling a story involving those things and hope that it can be enjoyed by everyone.
Can you tell us where people can hear the full album now? Where can people buy your merchandise?
Our album is available digitally on Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes. Physical copies are available online at Via Nocturna’s website, and from us if you come to one of our shows. We don’t have a band store up yet, but will in 2019; along with lots of new merch. Keep an eye out for us – we’ll see you on the road soon!

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