PHARMACIST “A Prescription for Mayhem!”
By Dr. Abner Mality
"Medical Renditions of Grinding Decomposition"
I work closely with my brothers in the pharmaceutical industry when conducting experiments on “volunteers”. But never before have I heard of the European druggist known simply as PHARMACIST. How did I miss the boat on this guy? I have no idea what the quality of his medicine is like, but his doses of CARCASS-inspired death metal are mind-blowingly good. In fact, the new PHARMACIST album “Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds” is currently my absolute favorite of 2022 and the odds are good that it will be my album of the year.
PHARMACIST has been extremely active with tons of splits and singles over the years, but now that his work is being distributed by the lauded Hell’s Headbangers label, he is really coming into prominence. Now playing death metal inspired by CARCASS is nothing new and plenty of bands are still doing it, but nobody has taken the style to the heights that PHARMACIST has. On “Flourishing Extremities…”, he reaches a level of brutality and progression that even CARCASS themselves would find difficult to attain.
So I set aside time to confer with the mysterious master of medicine and mayhem and the results were most enlightening indeed!
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Pharmaceutical greetings to you, PHARMACIST! Congrats on your phenomenal new longplayer! Have these songs been the result of long effort or did they come up fairly quickly?
PHARMACIST: Hails! Thank you! The base ground for the songs came up quite fast, but then… it was quite a long way to adjust all, put all details in, make some changes, brush up, change the sound a couple of times, etc. It definitely took longer than any other previous release, and I think it is a fair game to say that, after hearing the final result, I got calm and ready to move to other things.
WC: I want to delve a bit more into the mindset behind the band. Has the idea always been to expand on the work of CARCASS or have the goals of PHARMACIST changed over the years?
P: I think slowly but certainly, changes are coming in. The base ground still might be mainly from CARCASS works, already more unconsciously, but naturally I feel dragged in other direction with time, which is fresh and fun to make. More prog parts, more instrumental pieces, more death metal also. There was no specific plan to stick to the same ground for each release, but just wanting to play around with the base formula and seeing where it will go.
"Forensic Pathology Jurisprudence"
WC: Are there other influences on your music that maybe would not be as obvious? Bands and styles that influence your work on a more subtle level?
P: Yes, from the start, - classic thrash and death metal releases, such as KREATOR, DEATH, POSSESSED, PATHOLOGIST, - you can hear it here and there. Also, some prog rock stuff such as KING CRIMSON, early GENESIS, early YES, even some CAMEL and MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA.
WC: What’s your working relationship with Therapeutist (drummer for the band) like? Does he have an effect on how songs are written? Does he contribute to songwriting?
P: Therapeutist is the mysterious virtual member, heh. So I am the only one for ideas, besides guest members who joined the second album (for their part)
WC:There’s a kind of swing to some of your songs that almost reminds me of jazz. Is that music an influence on PHARMACIST and if so, who are some of your favorite artists?
P: Thank you for noticing it, such parts came in naturally and I decided to keep them, which had great chemistry with Andrew’s solos! I listen to some 70s fusion (John McLaughlin, BRAND X, WEATHER REPORT, etc), so I think that broke on through unconsciously. Some of the latest includess Chris Poland (including OHM), and TRAM (fusion project by Tosin Abasi).
WC: Is there any significant meaning to the album title “Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds” or is it just a collection of words that sounds “CARCASS-like”?
P: Ah, actually in my understanding it has nothing to do with gore or anything. It is about the rise of an art piece, while drying out and destroying the soils on which it grows. So in general, it’s about efforts and philosophy of the creative process and how it affects the artist. The title track lyrics are all about it, and about the cliches and safe play of trends, and those who took a step forward with critical backlash, only to be recognized as classics after decades.
WC: You put out a massive amount of splits, EPs and the like. Do you have a massive “song bank” or “riff bank” that you reach into to create your work or is song creation more instantaneous or spontaneous?
P: Yes, that was quite a ride, heh. I had some material which I wrote in the same batch with full-length, because the full-length was already so long. I used those songs for splits; also some material drafts were ready previously, so it took a short time to prepare it. The most consuming part of creating it all, was of course endless layout preparations and communications.
The most time-consuming split-EP part was the material for the EP “Carnal Pollution” and the split with FLUIDS. Those were almost all brand new ideas, so I needed to weave it all from scratch.
I do record some riffs, only on clean guitar to avoid the wow effect of any gain, - if that sounds good for me on clean, then it would sound only better plugged in. But now such ideas can be so old that I’d just delete them. Most of the current bank is outdated in ideas after “Flourishing…” is out, haha.
But for the general process, I would say it combination of both – using some ideas from riff storage, and when the song vision is shaped, you only try to catch up following where the song tells you to go. Later I used it on purpose in some songs – developing things naturally piece by piece, and after that turning back to the original idea.
WC: Is there one band that you’ve collaborated with on a split that impresses you the most?
P: Honestly, no. All of them are different, regardless of experience, doing their best and excited for the release. All of them are easy to communicate with and agree on details, and passionate on what they do. I can’t ask more from anyone.
WC: Do any bands come to mind that you’d like to work with in the future?
P: There are still many bands, including much bigger names, but physically it is not possible for me to prepare extra material now, so I have only so much time to do at least afull-length.
More than a split, the idea of some creative input is also realistic. Maybe I’ll ask someone to contribute for a song or lyrics.
"Flourishing Extremities On Unspoiled Mental Grounds"
WC: Are CARCASS themselves aware of what you’re doing? Have you had any kind of contact with them? I’d have to imagine they would be most impressed with what you are doing.
P: Ahaha no,I did not have any contact, and I doubt they will be positive about my works. But I think the underground music scene is much more visible now on social media, so they could see it somewhere, something.
WC: Is PHARMACIST your sole musical output or are you involved in other bands? If so, are they in the metal realm or from “outside”?
P: I am in some other projects, most of them are sci-fi themed thrash and/or death metal, some are progressive stuff. Currently I am finishing the debut album of one project, which most likely will be released anonymously, it will have some prog / sci-fi death metal, heavily 70s sci-fi influenced. Also there is a fusion project which hopefully will be released this year, so I can write the second one.
Finally, I just released the ANATOMICAL AMUSEMENTS project, with members of CRASH SYNDROM and FECUNDATION. Those are old songs, but I brushed them up and it’s great they finally can see the light.
WC: Is PHARMACIST strictly a recording band or is there a chance you will play live some day?
P: Most likely for the near future, it will be staying as a studio project. There are serious challenges with time and resources for live activities and also my personal visa issues. It does sound very exciting to play those songs live though. Instead, with the time that I have currently, I still can proceed on new material, which is still good. I liked how it was with the bands who started my introduction to metal – they released album an almost every year and each album was, if not better, different each time. So I’d like to keep the pace for new music creation.
WC: The cover on your new album is a curious construction. Could you tell us more about its creation and what exactly it represents?
P: I was originally thinking, maybe I should create artwork which simply describes the name of the album – some weird stuff coming from the human head? Or something like that. However, I was afraid the result would be not good, so I kept looking for any other pieces. We have been working for a long time with Adam from Strange Creature Collages, so I am often scrolling through his Instagram, or he sends me some new works if I am interested. So when I was looking at his new works, and saw the one, it was immediately “this! This!”. I contacted him with almost the same content and it was done. The whole vibe and colors, the somewhat almost avant-garde atmosphere was strict and to the point. And on such rich background, the construction of what-the-hell-it-is, made from flesh... Is it a statue, or a face, or a dick – who knows? I was very happy about the whole thing. And can’t wait to see how it looks on vinyl!
WC: Are there any books or movies that inspire you lyrically?
P: I haven’t watched any movies for many years now. As for the books – none that I can think of. I’d rather say some games could help me with good English words which I would memorize for later, - English is not my native language and I mostly learned it by translating METALLICA’s lyrics, so often I tend to go to – death-breath, obey-decay, and other such high school vocabulary / rhymes.
WC:If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
P: To my shame, I couldn’t think of any historical persons. Could it be all 3 members of RUSH (R.I.P. Neil) or some AV actress?
WC: Any plans for more releases in 2022?
P: Nothing concrete for releases, mainly I will finish all the queue of on-going projects. Once finished I’ll start the 3rd full-length and hopefully finish it by the end of 2022. But there will be some re-issue news, maybe new merch and “Carnal Pollution” vinyl is in the works, “Medical Renditions” picture LP is out now, ANATOMICAL AMUSEMENTS tapes and CDs are just released.
WC: Last words to PHARMA-fanatics?
P: Thank you all for the support during these years! Awesome to hear you during some short email conversations and see your interest for our new release. It is long and contains many layers, so enjoy and let’s see what comes out next year.