Biomechanical - Feast of Souls

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

 It's not often that you run into a band like Britain's Biomechanical. A band that pushes this art form we call heavy metal to the breaking point and beyond, a band that tries to bring a new meaning to the overused word "extremity". A few tons of talk will buy a couple pounds of bullshit in the metal realm, but Biomechanical's latest "Cannibalised" is a record that will really challenge concepts of what extreme metal is.

A breathless phantasmagoria of classical metal accelerated and twisted past the sound eye-popping combination of metal-as-soundtrack aesthetic and berserk virtuosity...a record that dares you to keep up with it..."Cannibalised" is going to piss off some and amaze many more. Queensryche at D.R.I. velocity...or Pantera colliding headlong into Nevermore at 500 mph?

We'd better ask Biomechanical mastermind John K himself describe the band, as I am finding adjectives harder and harder to come up with...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Do you think "Cannibalised" has taken Biomechanical to the ultimate limits of its sound or is there another level of intensity yet for you to explore?

JOHN K: I think it has definitely taken the band to the most extremes of its sound. I really don't think there is any space for more intensity without changing the sound of the band. One thing that I was very aware of was the fact that I didn't wanna change the character of the band. It's not too hard to get heavier but it¹s very easy to lose your identity. I really wanted to preserve the feel from "Eight Moons". I felt there was something individual about it and combined that with the aggressive elements of "The Empires of the Worlds". Of course all the elements were then evolved to a much heavier new composition for the "Cannibalised" album.

WC: What fueled your desire to create such extreme, challenging music?

JK: I think the album itself, to be honest. It¹s such a heavy concept that Cannibalised offered that there was no other way than to write the way I did. It wasn't easy even though I did enjoy it a lot. It took 14 months from start to mastering to put together "Cannibalised". It was hard work but I am very pleased with the reactions. It makes all the hard work worthwhile!

WC: Is there any point at which you discard a musical idea as being too much for the listener to grab onto? What is the point at which the song starts to disintegrate?

JK: Well, I suppose you have to stop when the desk catches fire...oh wait...That did happen, lol!!

It does happen but not that often to be honest. Usually when I hear a riff in my head it works really well when played by the band. But there was an instance on "Cannibalised" (which was a bitch to write) that was too crazy.When it was recorded I had to take a step back and say "Fuck! This is way too much!" I had to edit the track several times in order to get it to sound exactly how I wanted it to be. So yeah, there are some times where too much is too much. I have to make sure that first and foremost you have a song and then all the rest should follow.

WC: The vocal approach on "Cannibalized" is extremely unique. How do you regard the vocals in relation to the other instruments?

JK: Cheers, I think the multi-vocal style came out of my love for the old school metal but on the time I didn't wanna be left behind so I had to develop my growls. It took a while but it works out really well now. I suppose it's a bit more versatile in relation to some of the other instruments but it's just the nature of the vocals themselves.

WC: How in the world would the music from "Cannibalised" be recreated live? I would think it would be incredibly challenging?

JK: I have to say, man, that the new guitarists Gus Drax and Chris Van Hayden are absolutely incredible. They took onboard the material and tear through it.They really surprised me. Jonno on the drums is also incredible and
complimented really well by the awesome Adrian Lambert on the bass.(Lambert formerly played with Dragonforce...Dr. M) So the guys have been incredible. They make the live performance of the tracks a new experience for me

WC: Did the upheaval in the band line-up help to fuel some of the chaotic sound of "Cannibalised"?

JK: No. Not really, man. "Cannibalised" was written solely by me and it was recorded and pretty much finalized. The problems happened just before the final mix.

WC: Do you regard Biomechanical as a true band or as a project with you (John K) as the mastermind and the other parts as interchangeable?

JK: Well, I suppose if it was a project, I would have changed musicians on the first sign of a problem. But I didn't . I stuck with those guys because they did the same for me.Also the other side of the argument could be, is Metallica the James Hetfield/Lars Ulrich project? Or is Iron Maiden the Steve Harris project? Agreed they lead their bands and write most of the material but if it wasn't for Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith and David Murray , Maiden wouldn't be Maiden.If Kirk Hammett wouldn't put in his performance Metallica would have sounded totally different. The albums released from Biomechanical have been performed by band members. This isn't a project.It's a band.

WC: I believe there is a concept uniting each of your albums. Could you explain what that concept is?

JK: Sure! The whole thing started in 1999 when I decided I wanted to write a metal album. Before that, I concentrated a lot in studying composition, instrumentation and orchestration so that I would have the right knowledge to get involved in film music.

My love for film music led me to write an album that followed a story rather than to write a few songs and then use the most appropriate tracks for the album. The story grew though and I realized that it would be better to get it done on three albums. The titles of the albums were there pretty much from the beginning. Also their content (story wise) and a general idea of the musical style too. Also the concept behind the story that runs through the albums doesn¹t necessarily run from A to B but is used as a vehicle to describe issues that I wanted to talk about through the Biomechanical music.

The concept of "Eight Moons" is about fear and our ability (or lack of ability) to fight against it.It goes through human emotions and describes a life of a down and out guy who is waiting for a painless death to be freed from his frail body. On the verge of death he finds hope in the darkest place of his mind. The inspiration for this came from a real situation. I read about a Brit who was captured in the Middle East and was tortured relentlessly. He said that the only way he could survive the torment was by retreating within himself. It was the only way he could maintain his sanity.I also wanted to find a metaphor for the everyday horror we call "life". It's about the fight of your darkest fears (i.e. drug addiction, abuse) and if you think about it, we all live under different circumstances that define our universe. A problem to me could be how to sort out my bills on time,while someone on the other side of the globe is dying from starvation or torture. The different extremes create very different perceptions of life and even almost creates two different worlds.

The songs go through the state of mind of the character with ¹The Awakening¹ which brings him to his reality. The album progresses to the point where in the end he re-awakens to our reality and the cycle goes on and on until he breaks himself free from his torments.

On the second album "The Empires of the Worlds" he becomes what he was fighting against.He falls into the trap of the ancient command that has been running through our veins for ages. It dictates the entire Human race and drives it to commit horrific atrocities in the name of God, Money, Country. Constructed reality for a justification of a meaningless purpose. He re-awakens as the album gets closer to Absolution and realizes the truth with the tracks, DNA Metastasis, Survival, and Existenz.The track Absolution is about his struggle for spiritual ascension through realization, and Disintegration is the end of all things as he becomes pure energy in order to obliterate evil.

As I said earlier, it's all a metaphor through a futuristic angle. This album explores the fact that we as humans are driven to conquer anything that has a different genetic code than ours.The ancient command that resides in our genetic blueprint commands us to expand our existence like a virus. Blinded by everyday life we refuse to accept that our so called "reality" is a mixture of transmissions and non existent problems thrown at us so that we can¹t see the horrific consequences of our will to dominate.We mask the horrors of reality with what we call 'modern life' .This concept was written to reflect these issues on a personal level so that the story of the album is not some kind of a fictional situation -even though it is a futuristic story- but it becomes one with the listener as these issues derive from real life.

The last album "Cannibalised" talks about the human spiritual death. About the fact that the spirit is in constant decline purely because we don¹t care about anything other than our own skin. And those who do are lured into the internet where thoughts have become easily lost. Just log out and the problem isn't there anymore. In the "real" world we are bombarded by images of new things to consume and in the meantime society becomes more and more violent slowly returning to the roots of its primal instincts. Back to the animal state. Emotionless.

The story is told from somebody who realized there is no way out of this reality and Cannibalised is the acceptance of the death of his spirit. Every song is a different take of his emotions. The songs don't run like a story but describe different thoughts as he plunges into darkness.

wC: Is there any chance that Earache will re-release the "Eight Moons" disc?

JK: I think there were some suggestions here and there . We'll see how it goes.

WC: What was it like working with the legendary Chris Tsangarides? What did he make of your unique style?

JK: He thought I was nuts! It was really brilliant working with the guy. I mean, the stories were just incredible. He was coming out with things like, "I remember when I recorded with Ozzy and Randy" and I was like "come again??". Then it would follow a long session of a massive discussion over a coffee. It was just awesome working with somebody who has lived through the original glory of Metal. The best days of metal in my view. I was also looking for a specific sound and it didn't go towards the Protools sound. I was looking for something warmer this time. And I have to say that after working with valve equipment, I realized the huge difference between valve and digital equipment. The idea was to have a modern sound with old sensibilities and no one else could have done that better than Chris Tsangarides.

WC: How do you react when people called Biomechanical the future of heavy metal?

JK: It is an incredible thing to be said about your music. It's a huge compliment. You have to work hard to get in to a better place musically all the time.

WC: What do you think the future of metal really is?

JK: Don't know dude. We will see. I¹m stuck with the old days. Haven't felt that "History in the making" feeling when playing new stuff but there is some awesome stuff out there.

WC: How can you top "Cannibalised", how do you see the band evolving?

JK: Good question. I don't think it's a case of topping Cannibalized. it's a case of doing something new ,I suppose. It has to be fun while writing otherwise you can get wrapped up in trying to write songs that are on par with previous material.So yeah, I think exploring new things is the way to go about it.

WC: The filmscore influence is much more apparent on "Cannibalised". Who are some of your favorite composers and how did they influence the music here?

JK: To be honest ,there were equal parts of orchestral arrangements on the other albums. I think they were mixed louder here. Especially on "Through Hatred Arise". I told Chris that the orchestra was the protagonist here and he realized that the band had to take a secondary role. It helped a lot as you can really hear the orchestra. I've been listening to orchestral soundtracks since I was a kid and they have influenced me heavily. To the point where I started pursuing a film scoring career.To do that, though, I had to study composition, orchestration, instrumentation and all the things that you need to know in order to write a film score. These studies helped as I could apply the techniques on the metal writing, too. My most favorite composer has to be John Williams.I have something like 100+ Cds of the guy and an extensive film music library. It definitely has been a huge part of my life.

And it does have a huge influence on Biomechanical. Even the way the albums are put together have film type of approach.I do write the titles first like a scriptwriter would write a script. The titles give you a very strong sense of direction.For instance Violent Descent suggests a brutal track. Musically the film scoring type of writing takes the tracks into different modes, and also different harmonic changes. The orchestral arrangements have been also made with traditional orchestral writing in mind, avoiding in this way the keyboard orientated orchestral writing. A lot of bands have used orchestral sounds but I hope we can offer something different with the traditional film scoring aspect.

WC: Is Biomechanical your sole musical outlet? Could you see yourself doing a solo album or working with another band?

JK: I think I will turn to film scoring at some point, I don't think I will be joining another band to be honest.

WC: What was the last CD you got just because you wanted to?

JK: Star Wars- Revenge of the Sith

WC: What was the last gig you checked out just because you wanted to?

JK: I¹m not really a gig ,dude, cause I'm working all the friggin time but I will be at MetalCamp this July with Biomech so I will be checking out some of the bands over there.

WC: Are there any plans to play in the States?

JK: Not at the moment, man. We'll see how things go.

WC: Are there any Biomechanical "Spinal Tap" moments you'd like to share with the readers?

JK: We opened for Akercocke in Bournemouth and we walked in to this huge hall.We were like "Oh man! This is gonna be awesome!!! Yeahhh!!!" It looked the nuts.Suddenly we realized there was some sound coming from upstairs. We followed the bass sound and realized the gig was happening at a very small stage upstairs! It was fuckin' priceless!!

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