As we draw close to the release of their self-titled record via Clobber Records, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Plaga and Leon from Soulphernus. What follows is a fascinating insight into the inner workings of this hostile blackened death metal band as well as vivid accounts of what life as a metalhead could be like back in their country of birth, Poland.
Hail! Life is good - at the moment, we are looking forward to spreading our hate psalms upon the world through our self-titled album. We are pleased that the recently released single entitled "Darkness" which promotes the album was well received - and this is only just a prelude! Apart from the imminent release of our opus, we are playing a headline show for Heel Turn Promotion in Sheffield on 31st of August in Royal Standard Bar along Dominion of Ashes and Terminal Sun. We have been also announced to take part in Manchester Death Feast 2019 on 28th September.
It is worth mentioning that we are playing with a new line up since O.G. and Draugr left the band some time ago. We were joined by Matheo (Ante-Inferno) on guitar and Cruor (Modern Witchcraft) on bass. They have proved their worth and have shown devotion to laying sonic waste at our recent shows in Scarborough and Nottingham (where the bands clearly opened the gates of Hell as the room turned into incinerator).
The journey was rather hard and full of unexpected events beyond our control that made it even worse. I don't want to get into much detail but let's say finding musicians who understand how we want to convey our music and who listened to similar bands, or at least had some understanding what extreme metal and the underground scene stands for, was a nightmare! And, even if you find someone who would suit the profile, not everyone is willing to commute to Barnsley where we allow our rage and contempt to take its sonic form. But, despite all odds, we have managed to create music and play some successful gigs alongside such bands as Christ Agony, Master, Shadowflag, Wolvencrown, Infernal Sea, Stahlsarg, Sathamel, Antre and Non Serviam. After the recording sessions for our album Draugr and O.G. left the band which also delayed things.
Plaga - It is definitely "Sztandar Lucyfera"! Not only is it special because that was my first attempt to write and perform vocals in my original language but it’s also the most straightforward track on the album. Leon likes to build up the tracks before they hit the verse and it was no different when we rehearsed this track for the first time. But I said to him "Fuck that beginning, go straight into blastbeats after those cymbals". Additionally, we chose to enhance the mood by adding an intro done by A.S. of Tohu on the album version.
Lyrically, it is filled with so much scorn and rage and getting rid of all these things from within myself when performing is so liberating and empowering that I almost feel someone else is shouting the words from my mouth. I wanted to pay homage to one of the most influential Polish BM tracks of all time but I will let the audience guess what that track it is.
If we developed our live shows to the extent that we see fit, the shows wouldn't happen. Fans would have to sign a document that they (or rather their family) would not seek compensation from the band for any damage done during a gig (Refer to Metalocalpyse Episode 1 – haha!). All jokes aside, the extremity of our shows come directly from the crowd attending the gigs and the energy that they are willing to share with us! We are the messengers and the conduit of the "negative" energy and emotions that society classes as destructive and tries not to embrace. We do embrace it and we do release it when performing so, if it fuels the crowd at our shows, we are more than pleased with the results!
To be honest we do not plan our shows in detail apart from preparing a setlist. The rest is just spontaneous. We trust that everyone will play their part and maintain their stage presence in a way that fits the music. You can never be sure what we will bring - apart from sonic destruction, obviously!
Being born and raised in a certain country and culture will always have a big influence on you. Soulphernus started as a band consisting solely of Polish members. Most of the music was composed according to Leon's ideas on guitar. Certain motifs that appear on the album might sound familiar for Poles as Leon drew some inspiration from polish movies and funeral songs but twisted them about. We also listen to a lot of underground Polish bands and we were raised on Polish metal music that most of the UK metal fans will never have heard of. All of these factors have an impact on our music as we create it without boundaries. In fact there is a track on the album that was written solely by O.G. who is British so we wonder if anyone can work out which one it is and whether it has "non-Slavic" vibe. Personally - I don't think so.
Leon can relate to those days. Everyone born in Polish People's Republic (for those who don't know Poland used to be a socialist country but with a more liberal policies than other states of the Eastern Bloc) came across the regime's whip. Milicja Obywatelska (Citizens' Militia - police back then) treated metalheads and all the youth subcultures with verbal and physical violence. If you didn't behave and act like a typical grey citizen and wanted greater freedom to the way you dress, express and think; you were immediately picked up on the streets. Guys with long hair were sometimes picked off the streets, beaten and shaved on a police precinct. If you had camo trousers and were spotted by the officer on the street, you were immediately undressed as military uniforms were prohibited for the public to wear. If you were planning to go for a gig or a festival you had to keep in mind that anything could happen. Some people remember going out of a train to Katowice where Metalmania Festival was going on only to find a police cordon taking everyone straight into police precinct. They let them go, of course, but first they had to go through a corridor full of militia officers on both sides of a corridor with batons in their hands and who were beating everyone on the way out. It was so called "ścieżka zdrowia" (health path). No wonder going alone was treated like suicide because not only were the police a threat, but even fellow metal fans who would hunt for ‘poseurs’. So, being a metalhead in those days was an trial of character and will. And if Nergal had that in mind, then he was right. But that’s how it was. Metal, after all, is not music for the weak.
Plaga - I would love to share a stage with Azarath! That band is the fucking essence of how extreme metal should sound. It's incomprehensible - especially on their older offerings. Live, only ruins remain after their performances. When I witnessed them on a small stage on Brutal Assault last year that was easily best show of the festival for me, eternal hails to those butchers!
Burial, Spearhead, Grave Miasma, Abduction, Stahlsarg, Wode, Wolvencrown, Absinthropy to mention a few that come straight to mind.
Only time will tell. For now, our focus is on the gigs we have ahead and we cannot wait for everyone to have their fix of hatred, rage and scorn delivered through our album. Vivat Hatred!
Soulphernus - Soulphernus is AVAILABLE HERE NOW for pre-orders.