Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are very pleased to bring you an interview with the mysterious melodic, orchestral, blackened death metal band, Monumentum Damnati. Their debut album, In the Tomb of a Forgotten King is out on March 30th 2020.
1. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. How is everything in the Monumentum Damnati camp right now?
Abhoth: Thank you as well! Strange but as a matter of fact the debut album hasn’t been officially released and yet we are already actively creating the next one. We have been waiting for so long and don’t want to miss a single day. Also we’re working on the several videos during the process.
2. Can you give us a little bit of background into the creation of Monumentum Damnati?
Abhoth: The backstory of the project is much longer than its official existence. The appearance of MD was hindered by other projects, psychological issues, and generally different vigorous activity. But despite all of this the band finally took shape now. Great luck or a sign of fate but I managed to find the right people where I did not expect at all.
Thanatos: Yeah it all started not so long ago actually. That’s a quite strange story, you know. It started from the moment when I met Abhoth in a psychiatric hospital, I will drop the details of what we did there and how we ended up in such place. The thing is we quickly found common ground. Turned out that we have a lot in common, views on life and art but especially music. We both had some unused material from our other projects that lay deep down in the depth of consciousness. The idea to create some dark art together suddenly spark in the air and as a result we transmitting those amorph thoughts and demo tapes to a very definite form.
3. Monumentum Damnati is quite a mysterious band. What made you want to hide your identities?
Abhoth: Hidden faces and personalities behind the masks with blurred borders are primarily a symbol of the fact that music has no gender, country, skin color, or time. Actually to any artist would be useful sometimes to be by the other side of regular dogmas and borders. Passion for thematic literature / films / books also contributed to this choice.
Thanatos: First of all music is most important, who we are and how we look shouldn’t be relevant. On top of that, personally I don’t really like the excessive attention to me.
4. Do you think it works to focus listeners on the music rather then who is in the band? Or is there not the possibility of those hidden identities becoming a distraction?
Abhoth: In many ways this may look like a detachment from the public but the message is actually opposite. People who understand our art is the part of us and we are part of them. Long self-isolation didn’t pass without a trace, let’s say so. This is our specific way to make interaction with the public as honest and comfortable as possible for the both sides.
Thanatos: It is important to understand that this is not just a stage masquerade to stand out from the other bands. The message a lot deeper.
5. The masks are very detailed and very horrific looking. Does horror in general play a bit part in the makeup of Monumentum Damnati?
Abhoth: Horror is an inalienable part of our lives. It seems that I peered too long into the abyss and the abyss looked back at me. The horrors that served as the basis for some of the compositions in the past now seem distant. But so far it can haunt nightmares. And you can never get rid of it you can only accept it and put it on paper / canvas or a music sheet. But if we talk about the atmosphere of horror on the first album… it is still not so noticeable when compared with the material that we are preparing for the next release. The real evil is coming.
Thanatos: It is necessary to distinguish between the concepts of horror – as a genre of horror tales, and the horrible terrific things that occur in our lives. The first one is simply taken from the category of the entertainment industry but the second one is a brutal terrifying reality which is much worse and horrifying. Each person in his life sooner or later faces a series of terrible events and lives with his inner demons, trying to fight them. I stopped fighting mine I accept them and even draw an inspiration from it. Nightmares often haunt me as well. A couple of times I’ve experienced sleep paralysis, saw some things, sometimes it was even difficult to determine whether you are sleeping or this is really happening now. In general it is certainly difficult to ignore and of course such things are reflected in the creation of art.
6. Although quite a modern band, the music for the new album has been taking shape for longer, right? Can you tell us a bit about this journey and was In the Tomb of a Forgotten King always the goal?
Abhoth: If look back to the past the concept of the album should have been completely different. Over time the views on some things and musical addictions have changed. Some songs had to be returned to the drawer of the table while a number of new songs appeared. Including the title track of the album. This also predetermined the concept of a future release and the other visual parts. Do you know the feeling when you are sleeping and even in spite of intense fear you cannot force yourself to wake up? A terrible nightmare vision is not only a curse but also a gift. Nothing is real like a dream, and nothing is ghostly like reality. The composition “In The Tomb Of A Forgotten King” was created after one of these nightmares. Fearing to forget the bewitching melody and plot of the dream I rushed to record a demo and soon became literally dumbfounded by the feeling “here it is, yes, that’s what I wanted to say.”
Thanatos: There are many ideas, we still have a lot of tricks in our sleeves. In the debut album we didn’t show even a half of it. This is not the end of the tunnel there is still a lot to go.
7. In the Tomb of a Forgotten King, your new album is out soon. Are you satisfied with what you accomplished here?
Abhoth: This album is in many ways too personal and it’s hard to say for sure whether it was possible to realize all the ideas till the end. If so, then probably the band’s activity would have ended. But we are definitely pleased that this buried in a tomb forgotten king will not be forgotten. I am immensely grateful that Thanatos and colleagues finally managed to awaken me from the deep catatonia. They helped to throw secret creativity into the world. There are still many compositions left that are waiting in the wings, new ones are being written. But we must come to terms with the fact that because of our perfectionism it is difficult to be 100% satisfied with any result. But the main goal was achieved – to give life to our inner demons and to throw out 9 different faces of the wounded soul.
Thanatos: It depends on how you look at it. Unhealthy perfectionism always prevents you from objectively evaluating your work. Every time I want to change something or even redo it from the beginning. It is so rare when you manage to make everything exactly as you thought in your head. And it seems to me that with this album we more or less succeeded with that.
8. Is there a story within the music? A narrative being told?
Abhoth: Yes there is a story behind each song and it’s dual. These are stories inside the stories, parallel overlapping stories, where it is impossible to say for sure what interpretation a particular listener will find for himself. The meaning is veiled by metaphors and parallel plots. The dual nature of things has haunted me since birth. This is very well demonstrated in the song “My Bloody JJ”.Please, don’t get me wrong I’m not like an evil clown which running after people with an ax at the ready. The mysterious character JJ is taken from the book by Australian writer Will Elliott “The Pilo Family Circus”. Who interested – surely welcome to google it or even better rather buy a book and you will understand everything.
Thanatos: I think it will be wrong trying to explain what’s what. After all this is the beauty of art that each individual will be able to interpret the meaning in his own way. It is not so important what kind of message the author put in if the listener has any associations which are based on his personal experience. Therefore it’s good when there is a place for interpretation. It is important to not to deprive listeners of this right.
9. It is an incredible piece of work. A gothic, orchestral doom epic that crosses over many a genre. Did you find yourself tweaking and tweaking until you got exactly what you wanted?
Abhoth: Thanks! In terms of songwriting each track was born in different conditions and sometimes incomprehensible even to my sophisticated mind. Something literally appears right away in a couple of hours and some tracks were redone and shelved for the several months, delivered and shelved again. During the hospitalizations for obvious reasons it was impossible to write down alive the motives appeared in my mind. I had to find for the alternatives. An interesting experience. Regarding the style it was already noted that we did not have a binding to the specific genre. What came from the heart became part of the compositions.
In terms of the final sound design… In many ways we have been looking for the right sound engineer for a long time. Despite the large list of colleagues we wanted a new sound different from the previous ones. And one day I found an interesting Greek project Ocean Of Grief and contacted Koliopanos Filippos with the offer to cooperation. It was a great solution because we got a wonderful experience of cooperation. He not only took mixed ingredients between himself but also added his spices for the finished dish.
Thanatos: The goal was to create something that would be at least a little unique. These days it is super difficult to stand out, all the cool reefs have already been played the most genres are in stagnation. We don’t limit ourselves in any ways musically, we listen to all the music and trying to take the best from each genre and competently compose it. Pure metal genres are too conservative and limited to certain frames. We are highly against it. In the future we will have even more unexpected experiments, however the dark mix will remain.
10. Was there every a point who thought this project just wasn’t going to work? Or where you determined to get it done?
Abhoth: In fact it depends on how you relate to the result and how to vary it for yourself. From the beginning we didn’t set the goal of achieving sky-high results, big fees, or signing up for a major label, smashing large venues etc… The main goal was to create a project for the soul where the music would be in the first place (well, and the related: art, video, lyrics) Not as a PR tool but as a creative product.
Thanatos: Not really. We are all quite experienced musicians so no one panicked, everything goes on as usual. The ideas for the debut album were hatched for a very long time. However, it was surprisingly easy to find compromises and to sort things out.
11. Is this a one off? Or are you going to see how In the Tomb of a Forgotten King is received before you make a decision?
Abhoth: In our debut single (and video) “Infernal Sun” a person who has believed in the inviolability of his religion all his life begins to doubt whether everything is true, what he believed so far? He is tormented by the visions of the inevitable end, he constantly wonders if a higher power can give him what he firmly believed. Will the sun still shine after his death? He is horrified to realize that he cannot control the course of things and he isn’t in a position to look into tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.
Thanatos: It’s difficult to look far into the future especially when there is no confidence in the future. Definitely we’ll work further and don’t plan to stop there. We still have a lot of unrealized ideas and opportunities, our path is just beginning.
12. What about bringing Monumentum Damnati to a live stage? Certainly not the easiest thing to do, I’m sure.
Abhoth: We have a concert activity in the plans of course. And this really is not the easiest task for sure. Each of the participants played a lot of performances with other projects and with confidence they can notice that for active concert activity a lot of resources are needed. At this stage, concert activity would be a good pastime for us. But I don’t want to disappear for the months on tours. It’s better seldom but to the point.
Thanatos: Concerts certainly will be it’s just a matter of time but unfortunately we can’t promise anything concrete for now. We are preparing something interesting something big, more than a usual concert, a kind of gloomy performance. Anyway we are always open to interesting opportunities.