Sunday, February 10, 2019

interview: Plague Pit

This extreme metal band is totally new to this publication. They released their album Topheth Ablaze this past January. After listening to the band’s approach to their music, this publication sent them some questions to introduce them to U.S. readers. Be sure to listen to the album at the link at the end of the interview.
Plague Pit is based in Dublin, Ireland, right? But, actually, your band is new: formed in 2016 and now you have your debut album: Topheth Ablaze. Who are the members of the band and do you all live in Dublin?
Yes, we’re based in Dublin, Ireland. Plague Pit is a fairly new band, indeed, but we’re seasoned metalheads and have been in a bunch of different bands throughout the past couple of decades. Topheth Ablaze is our first proper album, but we’ve released our first material in 2018, I-MMXVIII, and while we think of it as a demo, it has 8 tracks and is of a similar length to Topheth Ablaze. We prefer to keep the identities of our members private, but yes, we all live in Dublin. I handle guitar and lead vocal duties.
Have you lived in Dublin your whole life? In your opinion, how is Dublin for metal music? In the U.S. young people like deathcore; various forms of doom get attention; so does old-school death metal. What is it like in Dublin for your extreme metal?
No, I haven’t lived all my life in Dublin. Dublin is better for metal than any other city in Ireland, but it’s not great. Ireland doesn’t compare to the US when it comes to alternative culture at all. It’s a very normative and homogenous society. There’s absolutely no coverage of any sort of metal music, be it on the radio, printed or even online press. That being said, the Irish have received Plague Pit very well and we’re thankful for that.
Would you say that your life has been good in Dublin? Would you say that you are hopeful as a person or rather a pessimistic person?
Dublin is all right. I’ve been able to write a lot of music and record two full-length albums here, so I’m not going to complain. I haven’t had any significantly bad experience here that couldn’t have happened anywhere else. I would say I’m more cynical than pessimistic, but I certainly am not a hopeful person.
What is your opinion for recording drums in your music?
Due to the limited amount of capable musicians in our - admittedly small - network, Plague Pit has been a duo for most of its existence. And that has worked to our advantage. I don’t think we’d be able to put out 2 albums in such a short period of time if we were a full group. We don’t use acoustic drums. Not everything you hear is programmed though, we try to keep it as organic as we can, given the circumstances.
Plague Pit also has a bit of a claustrophobic production. Not too clean. It’s raw and dirty. How much of this sound is by design?
On Topheth Ablaze I’d say the final product came out closer to what we had in mind than in our previous effort. Most of the sonic fingerprint of the album is a result of deliberate choices. We have a very limited budget though, so it would be dishonest to say the album sounds exactly like we wanted. I’m not a huge fan of the typical reverb-soaked production of some of the recent Death Metal that got popular, but I understand that for this style to work there needs to be a compromise between clarity and atmosphere. I don’t think our albums sounds as cavernous as say, Portal or Altarage though.
Blasphemy seems like an important part of Plague Pit. Do you agree? We hear that the Catholic Church and religions have covered up many crimes like rape and sexual abuse. How much of this constant news has affected your outlook on life?
I definitely agree. I became a metalhead from a very early age and detached myself from my family and, as a result, from religion, so I wouldn’t say any of the drama involving the Catholic Church has personally affected me in any way. In Ireland they’re still a strong institution, but they’ve been quickly losing support as the results of the last few referendums clearly show. Their continued influence on society, culture and law has caused lasting damage everywhere they’ve settled, though. I’m not willing to cut evangelicals any slack either, because from my experience they tend to be just as bad, if not worse.
Of course, we also see terrorists and governments in the world committing crimes in the name of God. Do these things also color your perspective?
I think terrorism is more a consequence of abject misery and war than religion. Governments using religion to justify whatever it is that they’re doing is just plain dishonesty and has little to do with religious doctrine.
You have some blasphemous song titles. Personally, do you consider yourself a devil worshipper, an atheist, an agnostic or simply irreligious? Do all your lyrics deal with religion?
I worship Slayer. Not all of our lyrics deal with religion. “Mercurial Emanations” and “Gone Astray” from the last album are two examples.
Musically speaking, what inspired the formation of Plague Pit? To me, Plague Pit is death metal that uses both the old-school brutality and also the dissonance that younger bands love. But what type of music did you have in mind?
We’ve been metal fans for a long time and have toyed with the idea of playing together for many years, but circumstances up to the formation of Plague Pit didn’t allow that to happen. I’d say you’re right on the money with the description of our music. Our first release is a bit more retro than Topheth Ablaze, but we’ve retained that old school impetus. Dissonance has been a part of Death Metal since the very early days and I use it in my riffs. I don’t like it when every single section is trying to be more dissonant than the last though, as that tends to lessen the effect and results in muddy, washed-out songs that all sound the same.
How does Plague Pit sound in relation to the metal that made you want to play music?
Slayer and Morbid Angel are by far the bands I’ve listened to the most in my life and I’m still a huge fan of some of their material. They’re absolute classics and I think very few of the bands that came after them managed to captivate me as much. I came across Death and Black Metal very early on and never looked back. I can’t speak for the personal experiences of the other half of Plague Pit, but we have very similar musical tastes. I think Plague Pit is an honest, heartfelt homage to the music we grew up listening. I don’t think we’ll ever hold a candle to Slayer or Morbid Angel, though.
Plague Pit has a lot to say about religion. What about politics? What do you think about the political parties in your country?
As a member of Plague Pit I don’t have anything of value to add to the political debate. As an individual I have very strong political views but I would rather not associate them with my band.
Leaving organized religion and political parties aside, what do you believe happens when you die? Do you think that people that say they believe in the afterlife, are those people crazy and lying?
I have no idea and nobody else does either. It’s difficult for me to entertain the idea of an afterlife, I’ll say that much. I understand the lure of the metaphysical because it comforts people about the unknown, about the end of life. I don’t think everyone who claims to have had a supernatural experience is lying, at least not consciously. I’ve never been convinced by any of those stories though, because out of all the possible reasons for something to happen they have to pick the least likely, most far-fetched of them. People may be biased towards believing in the supernatural rather than being dishonest. I do find it very amusing when people fall for spiritual gurus or any of that paranormal bullshit.
Metal Bulletin Zine is a zine in the United States. What would you like fans of U.S. of extreme metal like death metal to know about Plague Pit?
Some of the absolute best metal in the world has come out of the United States. We’re very thankful to everybody who takes their time to listen to us. Americans make up for a lot of our listener demographics, so we’re very, very thankful for that! And thank you for interviewing Plague Pit!
Do you have any other news that you would like to mention?
Yes. Our first release, I-MMXVIII was released on CD last year by Ablaze Records, from Mexico. We still have some copies left and we’ll be listing them on our Bandcamp. We’ve begun writing new music as well, but it’s early to say when that’s ever coming out.

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