Witchsorrow - 19/07/2012

WITCHSORROW are a prime example of a band unaffected by the Johnny-come-lately approach. They play their pure and epic non-pretentious brand of Doom Metal straight from the heart. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2010 and their second opus ‘God Curse Us’ will provide you with an hour of unsullied doom. Recorded over Halloween by Chris Fielding at Wales' ultra-remote Foel Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Hawkwind), ‘God Curse Us’ is an album that brings the dark spirit of '70s Sabbath forward to 2012. Capturing the dark essence of classic doom: heavy, mournful riffs; an oppressive atmosphere, bleak, sinister vocals and full-power metal freakouts, there's no mistaking it for anything else.

 

‘God Curse Us’ equals pure heaviness, taking in an Electric Funeral-esque vision of the apocalypse (“God Curse Us”), morbid, crawling grimness (“Masters Of Nothing”), dark fascination (“Ab Antiquo/Megiddo”) and pure Heavy Metal thunder (“Breaking The Lore”). Having already taken their doom-worshipping hymns all over the UK - including a slot headlining the Jagermeister Stage at Sonisphere 2011, Witchsorrow is ready for the rest of Europe!

 

 

In order to get to know this band a little better, we tracked down guitarist/vocalist Nick "Necroskull" Ruskell to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

First of all, how are you doing? And congratulations on your new album ‘God Curse Us’. Of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.

 

Nick: I have just got back from seeing Black Sabbath at Donington, which was absolutely incredible! Thank you for the praise of the album!

 

I’m not very familiar with your band, so could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the members and the origin of the name of the band?

 

Nick: The band formed seven years ago. I have been obsessed with doom metal since I was a teenager and had long wanted a doom band of my own, but could never find the correct people who shared my vision. It’s not enough to play slow, you have to have the doom vibe, the doom feel to your playing and your personality. I began seriously trying to put a band together seven years ago when I came up with the name and the riff that would become “Thou Art Cursed” late one night.

 

The name came from the idea for the band to be this total doom band. I didn’t want violins or keyboards or anything, I wanted everything about it to be as pure and total doom as possible, keeping with the traditions of what Sabbath were doing in the ‘70s, and the torch that was carried by bands like Witchfinder General, Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Reverend Bizarre, Count Raven and such over the years. The words popped into my head and it just felt completely right.

 

Emily Witch and I are married, and she joined almost immediately. She basically insisted that she be part of it. She’s a complete doom fanatic, and wanted in for the exact same reasons I wanted to start a band. We found our old drummer Morrellhammer through his punk band, Koresh. He was into the same bands as we were, and that’s how it was for years.

Sadly, he left last year. That worried Emily and I quite a lot, because we’re quite private people, and we live in our own little world, and the idea of searching for someone new was a horrible thing to think about. Fortunately, we have known Wilbrahammer for years and asked if he wanted to have a jam. He fitted in perfectly, he shared exactly the same vision to continue our church of doom.

 

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘God Curse Us’ and how much time did you spend on writing the songs?

 

Nick: We booked Foel studios where we recorded our first album six months in advance, finished all the gigs we had booked, and then spent all summer until October when we recorded, becoming madly obsessed with doing the record. It became an inescapable monster, it was all we could think about. Even when we went to the studio, the songs still weren’t finished, but we did that on purpose because there is something about being somewhere as remote as Foel that gives a lot of inspiration. It’s quiet, cut off and haunting at night. Emily and I are not keen on busy places at all, so to go there and be cut off from the world is absolutely wonderful for us.

 

How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Witchsorrow?

 

Nick: We cannot write a whole song on our own and bring it to rehearsal. It must always be the three of us working together, which is very hard work sometimes. We’ll start with nothing, or one riff, and just forge forward until we’re done. Normally it takes about two or three weeks to finish a song. Everything has to be right, it all has to have that feeling we’re chasing. Doom is the dark corner of heavy metal, the shadow, you have to gaze into it for a long time in order to create something worthy of bearing the doom name.

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

 

Nick: Emily writes things down, but our way of working is that if an idea Is right, we’ll work from it so much that it quickly becomes a second nature, and you don’t forget it. Not all ideas came easily, a lot of tension happens before things come out quite a lot of the time.

 

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘God Curse Us’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?

 

Nick: For us, the band is an obsession, it’s our church of doom that we’re building. I wanted it to be as thoroughly doom as possible. To me, that means heavy metal music, with that pure doom vibe. It doesn’t just come from playing slowly, it’s a feeling, and you either have it or you don’t. I wanted to make something that upheld the traditions of the great doom bands I grew up listening to.

 

I wanted it to be everything I wanted from a doom record. The band is our own little world in which we are the kings and queen, and that meant a lot to us while we were writing. We could do exactly what we liked, to create our own doomy little world from which we can bite our thumbs at the rest of the world.

 

How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for your debut album, and what do you think are the main differences between that album and the new one?

 

Nick: When we finished the first album, as soon as we started driving home, we began talking about ‘next time’. I’m happy with it, but we had our eyes opened to what we could do when we went into the studio.

 

I think this time around we’ve managed to capture the darkness and the doom feeling we were after on the debut. There isn’t any light in it at all. Even “Breaking The Lore”, a pretty straight ahead Judas Priest-influenced heavy metal song – has worms and darkness lurking underneath if you scratch the surface.

 

How did the recording process proceed, did you work differently this time than you did with your previous works?

 

Nick: We left everything we’d written open to being changed in the studio. Lyrically, I had very little written. A lot of the lyrics were written at the studio. Although we were cut off, there were plenty of outside things and people that could still bother me and make my piss boil, even from so far away.

 

Of course the main themes are clear, but can you give a brief description of some of the songs on the album? Where do you get your inspiration from and did anything in particular inspire you?

 

Nick: I want to bite my thumb at the world. There are infinite things that frustrate me, anger me, and Emily and I try to keep away from it as much as possible, we live in a little bubble that’s incredibly hard for people to penetrate. The lyrics are all horror, gloom, anger, bitterness, frustration, hatred, despair... There are days when you curse the rising sun, or you feel like you’ve made a very poor pact with the Devil, or you feel let down by people you thought were incredible heroes. The language I use for it may be classic doom words, but what they’re building is something only I really know the answer to. It’s not all witches for us, witches can be a lot of things – heroes, villains, wretches, powerful, lust objects. Whatever.

 

I also have an increasing obsession with the end of the world. I can feel it in the air, I can almost taste it. How much longer can we keep expanding the horrible 21st century world like this before everything implodes? When will food run out? When will the oil run out? When’s someone gonna drop the bomb? It doesn’t worry me, as such, I’m just waiting for it all to happen. We won’t survive until the end of this century, I think that’s deadly certain.

 

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘God Curse Us’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

 

Nick: It’s an inversion of God bless us, everyone, which seems completely inappropriate these days. The song itself is actually about the idea of the Large Hadron COllider blowing up and destroying the world. I wouldn’t care, completely honestly I wouldn’t. The fact that we can build things like that, and atomic bombs, and do basically anything, is more of a curse than a blessing because it’s what will destroy us.

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics apart from listening to your music?

 

Nick: There’s no message behind them that’s going to change anyone’s life, I’m not trying to sell them an idea, but they fit well with the music. All anyone needs to pay attention to is that they’re exclusively negative.

 

If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?

 

Nick: That I’m a man who isn’t making music because I see it as a vehicle to drinking free Jagermeister.

 

One of the typical songs on the new album I think is “Masters Of Nothing”, an up-tempo, powerful song. Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the future, or do you prefer the slower, donwtuned songs on the album  like the opening song “Aurora Atra”or the last one “Den Of Serpents”?

 

Nick: The faster song is actually “Breaking The Lore”. I wanted to have a heavy metal banger towards the end of the album that fitted with our love of bands like Priest, Maiden, Accept and such, it’s a bit Trouble-y or Symptom Of The Universe. It still fits perfectly with the doom, it’s just a case of being faster. It comes in at the perfect point where there’s been 23 minutes of total slow, doom darkness, then the speedier tempo becomes almost overpowering when it kicks in.

 

I like playing that one live, but when we’re writing we’re always drawn to the slower, more crushing stuff first. That’s where a lot of the darkness of doom is, and I love playing slowly and just FEELING the doom!

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?

 

Nick: As long as it’s dark and has that doom vibe, that’s all that matters to me. This does mean that a lot of our stuff is slow, but as mentioned, a song like “Breaking The Lore” can be just as dark.

 

Do you have any favourites on the album?

 

Nick: So much of it was all written back to back that favourites haven’t emerged yet. As a piece of work, the album feels very complete. I am looking forward to playing “Aurora Atra” and “Masters Of Nothing” live, though. We’ve not done that yet.

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

 

Nick: The reviews have started coming in, and all seem pretty positive so far.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

 

Nick: It’s nice to read good reviews, but ultimately I don’t give a shit. I tend to take the Gene Simmons approach to press, which is that it doesn’t matter what they say, but how much of it there is. The main criticism we get is that we don’t bring anything new to doom, but I’m not trying to. I’m celebrating everything I love about it.

 

The band to us is what we are, and it’s ours. Ultimately everyone else’s opinions will fall on deaf ears to us because we know what’s right and wrong in this world we’ve created for ourselves.

 

 

How would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the band before?

 

Nick: An exercise in biting your thumb at the world, played by three Black Sabbath fanatics.

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Which element on the CD are you most proud of?

 

Nick: Nothing. Although things can always be louder and heavier! I’m most proud that throughout the whole thing there is a thread of exactly the doom vibe we wanted to create. It’s exactly what we wanted.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?

 

Nick: As mentioned, I’m quite misanthropic, as is Emily. We’re nice enough, but we do everything for our own ends, not to impress people, and so much is done behind closed doors. We’re not into being the coolest or most popular people around, we’d rather shut ourselves off from that and live as we want without anyone interfering. The band means we have people looking at us, but it’s the side of ourselves we want to show them.

 

This isolation and longing for solitude fills it. I wish I could just exist in a cut off way, just me and Emily, with the things we care about, instead of being bombarded with shit all day long.

 

What is your opinion on the doom scene these days? What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?

 

Nick: I don’t know about an overload, I remember a time when good doom bands were pretty thin on the ground. There are tons of killer bands around at the moment like Serpent Venom, Pilgrim, Pallbearer, The Gates Of Slumber, Orchid. Electric Wizard have become huge, which is amazing. There are so many good bands around. I think the occult/’70s thing is being done a lot (even if we touch on that ourselves a bit), but I love bands like Cauchemar, Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, The Devil’s Blood. The doom scene right now is in a very good state, and I’m proud to be part of it.

 

What can we expect from Whitchsorrow in the future, any touring plans?

 

Nick: Hopefully touring. We desperately want to get into Europe. Promoters, please contact us!

 

Anything left to say to our readers?

 

Nick: A thousand thank you’s for the interview and the support. God curse us, every one!

 

 

 

Members:

Nick "Necroskull" Ruskell - Vocals, Guitars

Emily Witch - Bass

David Wilbrahammer - Drums

 

Former members:

Morrellhammer (2005-2011) - Drums (Koresh)

 

Albums:

2010 - Witchsorrow

2012 - God Curse Us