It was a rainy Thursday night when my laptop beckoned. A gentle cooing, the familiar calling from the darkness (aka; the noise Skype makes when you are receiving a call). I cautiously answer, afraid of what might reveal itself…
Thankfully, it was guitarist and vocalist MT from the German Melodic Death Metal group The Spirit and not some kind of ethereal monstrosity from the other side.
“The idea of this band was seeded a long time ago,” he begins, describing the origins of the band, “but it was in late 2015 when I met our drummer, it took a long time to find someone I thought was appropriate. It’s never easy to find good drummer. When I met this guy, when I saw him play, I thought he was very good. It’s also not just that you’re able to play your instrument very well. He’s he’s a very cool guy and I got along with him. That was the time I felt the band truly started in earnest. We immediately started working on the album and songwriting took quite some time. By mid 2016 we had our other guitarist and bassist join us and then we entered the studio and recorded our debut album.”
When I first came across the band, they weren’t signed to a label and had self-released their debut album ‘Sounds from the Vortex’ independently. They have recently re-released the album on Nuclear Blast. MT recounts the story: “We never planned to release it by ourselves or to start our own label. We we did everything for the album and when it was done we sent it to several labels. No demos or anything like that, it was the album as it is. None got back to us so I started my own label and had no idea how to do it. It was like, just jump into cold water and do it. I learned a lot during that time and I made a lot of mistakes,” he laughs.
It takes quite an intrepid spirit to take on the rigours of self-releasing an album, no pun intended, however sometimes it can pay off significantly as MT found out.“Two months later I received an email from Nuclear Blast, we were quite surprised to hear from them as when we sent the album to the labels we didn’t send it to them because we thought they have tons of very well known bands and they probably wouldn’t be interested in us. I guess we were wrong. We then went on to re-release the album with them.”
I typically like to analyze and interpret the lyrical content of an album but with ‘Sounds from the Vortex,’ it was difficult. MT explains, “There is no lyrical concept throughout the album. Our goal is to create the best music we can and not use a single weak riff. Every song on this album is exactly the way I wanted it to be. I don’t like to explain lyrical themes about the songs. They’re there if you’re interested. You’re welcome to analyse and draw your own conclusions. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, that’s why the music is there. I hate it when the lyrics are not that obvious and then have my own thoughts, paint my own mental picture or something like that then read in an interview, ‘Oh yeah I came up with this song because of this and this,’ and something super stupid and very different than what I had in mind. It’s like come on! Shut up! I have something in mind with each song sure but use your imagination, most times it’s much more interesting that way. When I write the lyrics I give a lot of space for interpretation. There are lots of lines where you can think it means this or maybe it means that, I just describe things in a way where there’s a lot of space for interpretations of your own.”
I enjoyed the classic At the Gates sound to the album. “We made particular sound design decisions in the studio to achieve a very organic sound so you can hear the feeling in it. Those are the feelings I had when I when I was writing the songs, it’s not just melodies. There small details present when you listen to the album more and more. This is not a plastic production like many many other bands unfortunately do nowadays. It has a sense of rawness about it and that’s what I think music should be.”
MT went on to describe his influences. “When I was growing up I was listening to a lot of Blackened Death Metal from Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden and also a lot of the US stuff. Naturally it had an effect on the way I learned to play guitar. I inherited the Swedish sound or the Swedish touch, whatever you call it. Our music has it because of we use a lot of melodies and harmonies. It’s the best way to express feelings and emotions. I don’t like to play for five minutes on three chords, I wanted to play something that moves. Maybe the biggest inspiration or influence on The Spirit is life. You know the emotions and everything you could put in the music in the lyrics, everything comes from life. Obviously the more negative parts of life or strong emotions and stuff like that.”
A few days later while listening to ‘Sounds from the Vortex’ I was wondering, am I sure he isn’t an ethereal monster from the other side? With the atmosphere, mood and intensity present in the album, I’m not so sure anymore…
Grab your copy of ‘Sounds from the Vortex’ from HERE!