By Octopi Mills
In the ancient tongue of High German, which is rarely spoken today, “Albez Duz” roughly translates as “Noisy Swan”. A fitting name for this strange band hailing from Berlin, who combine the raw force of Celtic Frost, the occult gloom of Black Sabbath, the hazy atmosphere of Pink Floyd and the music of the ancient past to create a bewitching sound.
Their new album “Wings of Tzinacan” is a brilliant piece of atmospheric metal that draws lyrical inspiration from the ancient Meso-Americans. It’s something not to be missed!
We recently hooked up with guitarist JULIA NEUMAN to learn the secrets of Tzinacan and the noisy swan…
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Welcome to Wormwood Chronicles....Would you start out this interview by telling us a few things about both the band and the music, which is new to us here?
JULIA NEUMAN: Eugen started Albez Duz in Berlin back in 2006 as a side project, and it's since evolved into a full band. Some might call the music occult doom rock, but we usually just say we play heavy metal.
WC: I found the new album to be worthy of an "album of 2016" for the roster here at WWC. What when into the making of this album? What were some of the themes or things you wished to do with the album?
JN: Thanks! That means a lot to us. The songs were written over time in 2015, so by the time we went into the studio with Michael Zech we had it all figured out. The themes on the album are partly based on Mesoamerican mythology, which fascinates all of us in the band, and partly based on the chaos and emotional times that were happening in our own personal lives at this point. All we knew going into the recording was that we wanted to make an album, not just a collection of songs. And we wanted to create an atmosphere. Always.
WC: There's a certain shamanistic or ceremonial feel to the music....what can you tell us of this observation, and how well founded is it?
JN: Doom music itself is often a ceremony for the listener. It's cathartic. Why else would we listen to such emotionally oppressive music? There's a sort of purging involved. So it made sense for us to bring in lyrical themes that not only are ritualistic, but mean something to us personally. Alfonso will always have close ties with the ritualistic elements of his ancestors in Mexico. As for me, I studied this heavily for my degree in Anthropology. It consumed me for a while. So the connection here is real.
WC: What are your plans with the band for the future, and for this album?
JN: We would like to tour this album and play as much as possible this year. On the other hand, we don't want to wait to start on the next. It will be a busy year!
WC: If I am correct, I see you are based in Germany right now...What will you say of the place and do you gather any inspiration from any of the natural aspects there?
JN: We are based in Berlin, yes. It's certainly cold and grim here in the winter – really the perfect place for doom. Although it's a capital city, it can be quite impersonal, and this allows for a lot of introspection.
WC: What albums or bands have done things you hold dear or inspire you?
JN: Everyone in the band would have different answers for this, and that's probably why there are many different styles that ended up on the album! Eugen is big on early gothic doom like Paradise Lost and Tiamat, plus classic '70s and even some pop thrown in, like ABBA. Alfonso names a lot of rock and stoner influences, like CoC and Kyuss. Plus he can sing some mean traditional Mexican folk songs. I'm all over the spectrum as well, from Mercyful Fate to Mahler. We have fun introducing each other to new stuff we're listening to.
WC: Here at Wormwood we often talk of the paranormal or the supernatural...I bring this subject up to all those who pass my way here in interview...Do you have an experience or tale you would like to share at this time?
JN: The thought is fascinating, but I've never experienced anything resembling paranormal activity. The most intense moments I've had are due to sleep paralysis. Of course there's a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, but the level of evil energy one can feel during an episode is baffling. The first time it hit me felt like a slow death by suffocation.
WC: What sort of effects do you use with amplification? Do you favor certain guitar effects to achieve things in the sound; say, analog vs. digital, or do you employ both?
JN: We do like analog. It's funny because there's this infamous pedal in the Albez Duz camp called the Warp. It's been on all the albums, but it's a source of contention within the band. We stopped using it live some time ago (thankfully, haha). We like to go as organic as possible, but at the same time we're always experimenting with sounds that help us achieve our desired atmosphere.
WC: What does the live medium serve for your purpose with the music, and how do you go about this experience?
JN: Most of all, we enjoy the connection with people. As you mentioned earlier, our music is ceremonial in some ways, so it's important to have all kinds of participants. It's the greatest feeling when we can be on the same wavelength as the audience.
WC: What was the last release you purchased just because you wanted to hear it?
JN: Pallbearer - Fear & Fury EP. And the new Metallica record.
WC: If you could ask any three people from history to dinner, who would they be?
JN: That's tough. 3 that come to mind immediately: Artemisia Gentileschi, Galileo and Mozart.
WC: Thank you for your time here at Wormwood....I would like to leave you now with any final comments or thoughts you wish to express, as we have reached the end....
JN: Thanks for the interview, and thanks to everyone reading for the support. Hope to see you when we're on the road soon. Cheers!