Uniting head-spinning musicianship, incredibly elaborate arrangements and an acute sense of dynamics within composition, NECROPHAGIST have reset the bar for complexity and technique in modern-day death metal. NECROPHAGIST's powerful riffs, mind-blowing sweeps and arpeggios, crisp and crushing percussion and intricately designed songs are at once unequalled and uncompromising. Epitaph is musically infallible, unveiling an invincible technicality so sharp and precise, it threatens to bore a hole directly through the heart of the existing progressive death metal playbook.
So I'm at a record store with some friends one day, and I come across this Recommendation Card thing directing me to the album Epitaph by a band called Necrophagist. On it read something along the lines of "for fans of Dream Theater, Cynic, Suffocation, Decapitated, Cryptopsy..." My friend goes crazy, and tells me his friend played some of it for him and that I should get it, practically begs me. We make our purchases and leave, and throw in Epitaph right away. Not even 30 seconds into the first track, I already have a boner. I was utterly amazed, dazzled, blinded, and floored. I've had this album on constant playback for over a month now, and the bands that little card compared it to are my favorite bands. Trust me, this is something you have to hear to believe.
Let me put it this way: In the liner notes of Epitaph, Muhammed thanks Bach and Beethoven.
The man behind the eating of the dead, Muhammed Suicmez.
Muhammed Suicmez - Vocals & guitars
Christian Münzner - Guitars
Stefan Fimmers - Bass
Hannes Grossman - Drums
Necrophagist is back after a five year hiatus, this time with a full lineup. Was the break due to finding members? And how tough was it to find members that could actually keep up with you musically? Will this lineup be permanent, or are you going to assemble new musicians for each record, like Chuck from Death did?
Due to line-up changes we lost a lot of time. Furthermore, we always played shows in between the line-up changes, but it takes time before new members can play the stuff properly so you do the maths. Well, the past 2 years I mainly was involved in composing the new album, so... And you're right with saying that it is difficult to find people that play good enough for Necrophagist. But in the end, I was lucky finding the right people, dedicated as hell. This is not gonna be a personal project with ever changing line-up. This is a band as it was meant to be.
The "Onset Of Putrefaction" album (recently reissued by Willowtip Records) was written and recorded by you alone. The drums were programmed on a drum machine. How long and arduous a task was that?
Yeah, back then it's been quite hard since I was not familiar with recording processes that much. It was a hard task to get into it and do it as perfect as possible due to the limited possibilities I had regarding equipment. But where there is a will, there is a way. I programmed the drums according to the drum lines the former drummer had played until then. It's been a coincidence that there has been no line-up in Necrophagist back then. I was forced to do the album alone. As I said, I wanted to do it as perfect as possible, so it took quite some time to program the drums. I'd say 2 weeks.
With the five year gap, is it safe to say that the songs on "Epitaph" were being written and perfected during that time period? How was that time spent?
No. It took like the past 2 years to compose the stuff, but we used these 2 years to perfect the stuff.
The members of Necrophagist don't live very close to each other. How does the writing and recording process work in that situation?
Through e-mail. All instruments including the drums are tabbed out completely. So there is no room for errors and everybody works at home on his part. It works very well. In fact, we never rehearsed the new album together before entering the studio. Everybody showed up and played his part. I'm glad we have musicians capable of this because otherwise I don't know how we would get all this together.
One noticeable difference between the albums are the lyrics. "Onset..." has more of the cliche gore lyrics, but they're missing from "Epitaph". What caused the shift in lyrical focus?
Nowadays, I think our lyrics are important for the whole package, if you know what I mean. When I composed the songs for the first album, lyrics have just been a must to get the vocals together. To be honest, it's been fun to have this contradiction that Necrophagist tried to get the best possible quality regarding music out there, whereas the lyrics have been real cliche gore lyrics. You gotta give the people something to bitch about, you know?
Now that you've signed with Relapse, can we expect albums to come out a bit faster? How has the label been treating you?
Well, the consecutive albums to "Epitaph" will come out faster, but that's nothing to do with the label... more with a steady line-up, which we fortunately have right now. Relapse has been treating us well. We're satisfied so far. It's just that we still have to get more attention before we can expect a higher priority.
Are there any tour plans in the works now that "Epitaph" is out? Do any of those plans involve making your way across the ocean and into the US?
Definitely. Sometime early next year.
Do you ever feel like changing the band's name? It's very cliche and with so many other 'Necro' bands out there, I've known people that confused you guys with other bands (Necrophagia most of the time) when I'm telling them to check you guys out. Besides, abnormal music deserves an abnormal moniker.
Maybe you're right. What should we do? We have been with that name since the beginning which is over a decade right now. When we chose the band name, there certainly haven't been that many bands with a 'Necro' in the name as there are today. So you better make sure people know the difference.
This question begs to be asked: how did come to be so good at guitar? When did you start playing? Do you have any formal training? Who would you say are the biggest influences on your playing?
I don't know why I have the level of playing I have right now, whether it's good or not. I started playing when I started Necrophagist... a little bit more than a decade ago. I don't have any formal training, nor did I have lessons. My biggest influence when it comes to soloing is maybe Malmsteen. Regarding riffing technique, I'd say I pretty much have my own style.
What made you choose death metal? Most guitarists of your skill level are overlooked as extreme metal musicians, by fellow non-metal musicians who won't listen because this style can be rough on the ears to them.
That's been the music I was listening to when I started the band. Death metal has been so extreme back then, maybe the most extreme one. And since I myself am an extreme person in decisions, this is quite naturally a given to play this style.
In your opinion, who are the Kings of Metal? Why?
I don't know. I don't believe in monarchy.
Would you ever consider a cover on an album, or live? Which song, metal or non-metal, would like to cover as a band? Why?
We used to play Death's "Crystal Mountain" on our shows, but we do not to intend to play any cover, be it live or in studio, in the near future. Well, we intend to cover a classical piece on the next album.
Any last words?
Thanks for the interview. Anybody who wants to do me something good buy me a pizza.
Review of Onset Of Putrefaction and Epitaph from digitalmetal.com
- This one is pretty funny, but very accurate.
Review of Epitaph from allmusic.com
- All Music Guide is usually 100% accurate 99% of the time, but I think they passed judgment on this album. A mere 4 stars out of 5 just seems like an insult.