Black Metal from the Windy City that makes you think about all things having to do with nihilism and desolation, Veneficum has at last unleashed their dark masterwork unto the world. Enigma Prognosis is now available from Forever Underground, and itís filled with a sonic brutality that is normally associated with their more well know Scandinavian counterparts. We recently conduced an email with vocalist/bass player G. Reymond with added commentary by keyboardist Jason.
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Veneficum and how long the band has been together.
G: I am G. Reymond and I am the vocalist/bassist. I had also performed the drums for our new full length entitled Enigma Prognosis, out on Forever Underground Records.
What is it like being a Black Metal band in Chicago? What is the overall metal scene like in Chicago?
G: Well, it really isnít anything special, even though there isnít really much Black Metal from Chicago. The scene here is mostly Death Metal. And needless to say, a lot of bands suck and have egos. It seems that local shows here are getting kind of stale since the same bands are always playing. And with that, the same people go to those same shows and never check out any of the newer, less recognized, and sometimes BETTER bands. Also getting shows here in Chicago is getting kinda frustrating since all the small venues that catered to Metal shows keep slipping through and closing down. So it kinda sucks down here to tell ya the truth.
How does the music on Enigma Prognosis compare to your previous EP? What took it so long to come out?
G: The new album, overall is better in ALL areas and aspects. The sound/production, musicianship, lyrics, artwork. Everything improved dramatically. We all as musicians, were really able to show ourselves a lot more with this album. I originally wasn't supposed to perform the drums on this record, but due to certain circumstances in the studio with our old drummer, I kinda had to. It was either that or a fucking drum machine! There was a period of time during mid 2002 that it was just Jason, Aric and myself in the band. We already had about half the album written. We would rehearse with me on drums and we completed the album. Then we had [Milwaukee] Metal Fest coming so we had gotten our old drummer back in the band for a second time. He stayed with us until six months later when we started to record. Things werenít looking good in the studio on a performance and personal level. So I came in and after NOT having been able to touch the songs on drums for six months, I recorded the entire album in 3 nights. I wish I could have been able to rehearse the songs again before I recorded them to make them a lot more tighter, but it came out better than I had thought. We had taken a lot more time recording this album to make sure that it came out the best that we can. Of course there are still areas that can be improved, but I am satisfied with the outcome.
What exactly is Enigma Prognosis? Who came up with the title?
Jason: Well the two words together can be defined as a prediction of likely events that are mysterious in nature. The basic theme running throughout the lyrics is of the unavoidable demise of all matter in the universe used as an extended metaphor for psychological breakdown. This was pretty much decided by G. Reymond and I going into the writing process for the album. It's a pretty bleak, nihilistic view of things. There is nothing for anyone or anything but decay. That is the prognosis. The enigma is that humanity can never understand it no matter how hard it tries. It can only lie to itself with ideas of spirituality in it's quest for meaning that does not exist. I came up with the title.
Where did you get the ideas for some of the lyrics on the new CD?
G: Hhhmmmmm. Well from not a whole lot, really. Mainly just from my fucked up head. I'd be driving around in my school bus (I drove a "Special Education" bus. yeah, the fucking "shortĒ one.), observing these kids and whatnot. I would just get all these words/sentences and just write them down. I'm sure being in that environment had something to do with some of my lyrics, I'm sure you can imagine. I also am very fond of movies like Fire In The Sky, Contact, Communion and other films related to extra terrestrials, subject matter and psychological abnormalities. Also just a general interest in negative areas such as depression and suicide. That and, of course my general outlook on life and existence is what compels me to write these kind of lyrics. These lyrics are something I am interested in and that I would like to see written down. In fact, I donít even know EXACTLY what certain parts mean in part or in whole! They just came out and I combined the ones that had went together and was able to recreate the "vision", or whatever you want to call it, that was in me when I first came across those thoughts to begin with. I also like the lyrics to be general and open and used more as a means to create certain negative visions, moods, and atmospheres within individuals. GO KILL YOURSELF ALREADY!
Where are all the songs about Satan?
G: In the DEICIDE section of your local music store. Hehehe, well, it's just something thatís not prevalent in our lives. We donít call ourselves "satanic", so writing satanic lyrics exclusively is not a natural thing. If you are one who calls him/herself satanic, I am sure you would find some satisfaction in our lyrics anyway. We have nothing against it and support most good bands that indulge in such philosophies. I donít need to say more about it.
The keyboards play a major part within the Veneficum sound. How long have you been playing and what kind of training do you have?
Jason: I have been playing for about 9 years on the keys but the first 4 were just noodling around trying to make sounds that please me. It wasn't until joining Veneficum back in 1999 that I started getting really serious with the synthesizer. I am completely self-taught. I have actually been playing guitar 3 more years, and am responsible for writing 95% of the guitar music on the new album.
How much input did you have on the artwork by Niklas Sundin and how did you initially get a hold of him to do the art?
Jason: I contacted Niklas through email and he presented us with some choices of artwork he had available based on some of the tracks he had heard from the album. After checking them out it was decided overwhelmingly that this was the art for the CD. He was really cool and customized it to our liking as him and I worked together sending ideas back and forth until it was done! We are very pleased with the result and will be working with him on future releases!
G: Jason forgot to mention that I was the one to pick out the cover hehehe. I had to talk them into using it because I saw right away how unique that it was and how uncanny the similarities were between the cover and the lyrics. I couldnít find anything more perfect.
How difficult was it to ship the masters back and forth to Finnvox? Did you actually get to go there? What do you think of the final recording overall?
Jason: Actually, since the album was recorded and mixed at my own facilities all I needed to do was transfer the digital WAV mix downs to the Finnvox FTP site. They had them in a matter of hours. After Mika (Jussila, mastering engineer) was done he put the finished files in a separate folder for me to download. Whole thing done over the Internet in less than a week. I am very pleased with the result of the sound on the recording, especially the drums and synths. The mastering gave it a finishing touch tweaking out the bass and maximizing volume and compression.
Has Veneficum ever played shows outside of the Midwest or plan to do any touring in the future?
G: The last time we played anywhere outside of the Midwest was the New Jersey Metalfest in 1999. We had ventured out to other cities before that such as St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis.
Lacuna Coil is about to go on tour with your favorite band POD. Any comments on that?
G: Fuck P.O.D.
Iím surprised you played Metalfest after what happened to you guys there in 2002. What was it like playing at 1am in the morning and why did you get that slot?
G: Well, other than the performance being somewhat of a disaster, it was fine and dandy cause not a whole lot of people witnessed it. It was either that or at fucking NOON!!! I donít know why we had such a shit time slot. I saw that Epoch Of The Unlight was scheduled to play at like 4 on Friday. That was like when the fucking fest started! That band deserved a lot better than that. It was also a bit of an experiment because I was JUST performing vocals. We had a session bass player and drummer. After watching a video of it, I definitely decided to play bass and sing again.
With you being the drummer for Enforsaken, do you ever see that getting in the way with what you want to do in Veneficum?
G: I assume that it could. But I would do what I can to prevent any mix-ups. Also being that Enforsaken is on Century Media/Olympic, that would be a bit more demanding between the two. It has been working out fine so far though. I can practice just as much with either band. When we were recording, I was able to record on weekends with Veneficum and then shortly after with Enforsaken.
Would Enforsaken and Veneficum want to tour together?
G: I would love to tour with Veneficum and Enforsaken at the same time! If it would ever happen? I have no idea. The timing and the chances are slim considering there are two completely different labels involved. I can only wish.
What are the future plans for Veneficum?
G: SHOWS AND TOURING!!! Yes, local shows, and hopefully a few decent tours this summer. We will wait and see. If we end up NOT touring, I wouldnít be surprised either.
Any final comments?
G: We thank you very much for your support! We thank you for your interview and keep up the good work on your kick ass zine. HAILS to all who have supported us and please check out our websites at www.veneficum.com and www.enforsaken.com.....As I am doing this, I am getting my brain kicked by the new VITAL REMAINS. HAIL DAVE SUZUKI!
Enigma Prognosis is now available from Forever Underground Records!
Although they may sound like a Black Metal band from Norway, the mighty Veneficum hail from Chicago, Illinois. Having caught their excellent live performance two years in a row at the infamous Milwaukee Metalfest, it was time to find out more about the darkly symphonic music Veneficum present to the metal masses.
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Veneficum and how long the band has been together?
I am G.Reymond and I am the Vocalist and Bassist. We have been together for about 3 years.
Tell me a little about the Illinois metal scene -- are there very many places to play? Are you guys based out of Chicago?
Yes, we are based around Chicago. As far as places to play, there is not that many. Just a couple small places ya know. Some of the promoters out here suck. They don't know anything about the bands and shit. Just all about money and gay bands. As far as the scene goes, I think there are a few bands here that deserve a bit more recognition, as well as some bands that just suck.
What exactly is a Veneficum and what made you guys decide to use the name?
I don't even know! Well, actually our drummer had gotten the base word "veneficus" from a friend and we kinda changed it a little. It is a Latin word with means "death by poison, bringer of death" of sorts. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
Where do you get the ideas for the lyrics you write?
Hmmm, from a lot of things actually. Personal experiences, other bands, movies as well as just some crazy ideas that go on in my head. Even some photography can be helpful. I like to explore paranormal subjects and also try to bring out the reality on how dark and bleak some scientific subjects are. Ya know, not your ordinary Satanic lyrics.
How close are you guys to recording the new album and how will it differ from Dysphoria?
We should be recording within the next few months I hope. Maybe have it done by the end of the year. Not sure yet. We are still finishing up on some parts and rehearsing. This album will definitely surpass Dysphoria by far. It will also be a full length will over 70 minutes of music on it! We are totally looking forward to getting this out. There will be a lot of different things going on. Maybe even some sample and loops. Top notch production.
How long has Antarktis been playing keyboards and who are his musical influences? The keyboards really add a distinct mood to your overall sound.
I'm not sure. I would guess around 5 to 6 years. I would have to ask him. As far as his influences go, he likes a lot of different stuff I can't even think of right now. Just go to the website and we have playlists in the "members" section and that should give you an idea of what he's into as well as the rest of us.
So what happened at the Metalfest this year. You guys played for like 15 minutes...
Hehehe yup. 15 fuckin minutes. Well apparently, I believe, the band before us did not want to stop playing. They played until they got cut off. Now I'm not sure if it was because they cut them short or what, I don't know. But it seemed like they got to play for more than 15 minutes. Anyway, So after our second song (!), on of the guys who was running that stage comes up to me and says we have 4 minutes. I'm thinking "what the fuck?!." So I turn and tell the guys that we have to play our last song. So we start it and not even half way through the song, this jackass has came up to the stage several times and made hand gestures for us to stop! Now this was pissing me off so the next time he did it I gave him a hand gesture of my own and said told him to fuck off. Apparently he didn't like that so they turned the PA off on us. I didn't care at that point, I might as well could have done that or they would have done it anyway. It's not like we were not going to stop or anything. That was our last song and that was it. We could not even play three fucking songs at Metalfest. That fest is really going to shit and I don't even know what to say about the festival anymore.
What other projects are you involved with in addition to Veneficum?
I also am the new drummer for ENFORSAKEN. I have been with them for about 4 to 5 months and I am very excited to be apart of this band full-time. We have signed with World War III records and should also be recording fairly soon. I am really looking forward to recording the new material with them because the new material is far better than what was on their "Embraced By Misery" debut. Any info on them can be obtained from their website at www.enforsaken.com as well as WW3. Other than that I just have a couple other side things that I do when I have time. One is Faith Of The Fallen (melodic, Swedish metal) and the other is Anal Autopsy (unmotivated, lazy ass, grind). I play drums in both and write for Anal Autopsy. I also did some vocals for Jason's (Antarktis) side project called NOMINIS UMBRA. This project was written by Jason and other member Pat Sanders. The music is a cross between Arcturus and Opeth but definitely stands on it's own. Any information on these bands can be obtained on our website or just by email to the band.
Has the band ever played out here on the West Coast or plan do to any touring in the future?
No, we have not yet played anywhere on the West Coast. Though we plan on doing so eventually. Depends on if we could get on any tours or whatever.
Have you ever opened for any big name bands. If so, what was that like. Were they cool to you guys?
Other than Metalfest's, not really. Mostly just Chicago area bands like Macabre, The Chasm, Reprobation, etc. Everyone seems to be pretty cool out here. We've never had any problems with any other bands.
Have you received any reactions from the bigger labels from your music? Will the next CD be released on Forever Underground as well?
We are still gonna go with Forever Underground most likely. We haven't sent out anything to anyone, so we haven't had anyone really approaching us for a deal. We'll see what happens.
Do you mind being compared to bands like Dimmu Borgir when your music gets reviewed?
I don't mind. It probably is an accurate comparison. As long as it is not compared to Cradle Of Filth! I hate it when just because a band has Keyboards, it automatically sounds like Cradle Of Filth. I can tell ya right now that we are much more intense than Cradle has ever been and we do NOT sound like them either! I also can't stand when people say Dimmu Borgir sound like Cradle. Dimmu did not wimp out like Cradle did. Hey Dimmu might be a bit more popular than most bands but that does not mean shit. But I'm not here to defend anyone that's just my opinion.
So what exactly do you hate about P.O.D.?
Everything! hehe well, c'mon, what is there NOT to hate about P.O.D.? They suck.
What are the future plans for Veneficum?
We have a few shows coming up right now. In October we will be playing in the Cleveland, Ohio area with The Chasm on the 6th. We will appear at this year's Michigan Death Fest on the 18th as well. We plan recording fairly soon after that. That's about it for now.
Do you have any messages for metal fans who might want to check your music out?
Hhmmmm, if ya get a chance to check us out live or come across our CD, definitely check it out! We're sure you won't be disappointed.
Final words of wisdom?
Final words? Yeah. Wisdom? Maybe not. Thanks for the interview and for the support! Please check out our Website at www.veneficum.com as show info and news is posted frequently. Also be sure to check out www.enforsaken.com as well. Thanks again and HAILS!!!
VENEFICUM: Their Official Home Page!
ENFORSAKEN: G. Reymond plays drums with this band!
FOREVER UNDERGROUND: The Record Label for Veneficum!
RETURN TO THE PIT: Awesome metal photography website -- thanks to Reverend Aaron for the Veneficum Pic!
THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page!