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zaterdag 31 oktober 2015
DE PROFUNDIS: A True Revelation In Progressive Extreme Metal

Interview with lead guitarist Shoi Sen of De Profundis by Vera in September 2015

Nearly ten years, UK based De Profundis happened to be a grossly underrated band. Even now it remains a challenge to deal with all the ‘charms’ of the underground, yet there seems to be some signs lately that mark an increase of success and recognition. A new label and the amazing new album ’Kingdom Of The Blind’ have to pave the path for getting some steps higher upon the ladder of success. The technical skilled extreme metal with fetching melodies might demand some effort from the listener to fathom, in a world that’s full of praise for bands like Opeth, Death and Cynic, there must be a place for De Profundis, surely now that the first band has chosen for a more mellow, progressive approach and the latter one recently decided to stop. However, do not forget that De Profundis is just a bit different, thus they offer us originality too. Reasons enough to talk extensively again with the sympathetic guitarist Shoi Sen, based in metropolis London.

Hello Shoi! How are you doing? Hope you are doing great! There is lots of great news to announce, most important the release of your excellent fourth album ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’, so let us have our third interview after our articles in 2010 and 2012…
Hi Vera, always good to hear from you. Before starting this interview I would like to thank you for your unwavering support throughout the years. De Profundis has musically gone through a lot of progression over the years, but your enthusiasm for the band remains the same! So thank you, now we just need more of you everywhere around the world hehe…

I was excited to find out that 2014 was an important year for the band. The EP ‘Frequencies’ suddenly got a lot of praise by music fans and press, even Zero Tolerance suddenly woke up. So please tell us what happened?
I think the world of metal is a bit slow that's what happened :-) In fairness Zero Tolerance has always been a big supporter of the band right from the first album. But yes the 'Frequencies' EP was extremely well received for what was effectively a free download. We toured a fair bit for it though so that helped getting us the recognition. I also think that we hit the spot musically on the EP with shorter and more aggressive songs. We've carried that through the album now.

It is funny – but end good all good – that some recognition suddenly comes, while you are already ten years in the running with amazing material all over. Any thoughts about or explanation for that?
I wish I had an explanation. Yes, the band celebrates its ten years this year which to be honest is a huge achievement for a band with no financial support and not much support from the general music industry. Everything we have achieved and the recognition we are getting has been through sheer hard work, heartbreaks and dedication. But to be honest that has also allowed us to be where we are today with a strong and varied musical catalogue. So when people discover us through this album, they will be able to dig into a strong catalogue of songs. I can't wait to play headlining shows where we get to play our older songs next to the new ones. It will be a contrasting experience but so much richer.

Of course your vigorous and skilled live performances also helped spreading the word. What can you tell about the increasing response on that level? What can you mention as memorable tours or gigs within the last four years (since ‘The Emptiness Within (2012) and after)
De Profundis has always been a live band, people always get a figurative smack in the face when they see us live. And this was proven when we toured with Malevolent Creation last year who are a pretty fearsome live act themselves. But you know what, we matched up based on the reaction we got every night from a crowd that wasn't generally familiar with us. You saw us a few years ago so I can't wait for you to see us now and see what you think. And in terms of best gig since ‘The Emptiness Within’, well recently we did a disastrous tour of Spain. The booker was utter rubbish and the last show of tour was in the north west of the country in a place called Oviedo. We were feeling pretty dejected that day, the tour had been shit including a cancelled show, we had some damage to the campervan and we knew there was a long way back home. Anyway we got to Oviedo, the promoter was really cool and genuinely happy to see us. There was a good and highly enthusiastic turnout. I don't know something collectively clicked in our heads, we got out of our dejection and delivered an unbelievable show, we played like possessed musicians. You know it was good when you get ask for not one but two encores! So moral of the story, make us angry and you will get a better show :-)

Meanwhile new material was written and a fine-tuned selection of that was eternalized on ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’. Can you tell a bit more about this writing process, the first one with lead guitarist Paul Nazarkardeh involved?
Well the writing for ‘King Of The Blind’ started early 2012 after my home studio was built. Halfway through the writing we split with Roman (Subbotin, guitars) and Paul stepped in pretty quickly. And to be fair from that point onwards we didn't look back. For the first time we had a lineup with the same musical vision and ability. Paul whom I am sure you will meet at some point, is a very enthusiastic and energetic young man and he really brought a lot of freshness to the writing. Me and him really complement each immensely, so that we even have a covers band together…

I remember that you said ‘The music will remain intricate, but we tried to streamline the songs a bit on ‘The Emptiness Within’. Were there certain purposes or approaches you had in mind when writing ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’?
The process of streamlining continued on this album to be fair whilst we maintained the sound of De Profundis with the atmospheric breaks, fretless bass and melodic solos. Our challenge on this album was to keep the melodic element, whilst pushing the technical boundaries. That's always been the moto of De Profundis, we know we can all play at a high standard but we never substitute technique for musicality. So many technical bands these days have technical diarrhea, so that their albums become unmemorable. Death metal from the early nineties was always pretty technical but with memorable songs. The only significant change is that we have changed our guitar tuning from standard E to D. We just wanted a fatter guitar sound and felt that was the way to achieve it.

Indeed, I think the technical abilities still improved and are put in the front, while doom flavours (except for the intro) are pretty much gone, in favour of wandering through wide musical spectrums for instance jazz and progressive stuff. Do you agree? What are your thoughts about that?
This is an interesting one. Seen apart from a brief period with the first album, we never considered our music to be doom. Our music was never monolithic, and the progressive and fast elements were always there especially when we played live. For some reason that doom tag never went completely even with this new album when you have songs that are clocking at over 250bpm! I can assure you that De Profundis does not feature in the top 10 bands of any doom fan hehe. The jazz element has always been there, especially with Arran who is a jazz fan, and the essence of progressive music is that it evolves, which was what we have been doing since the first album. So at the core DP is a progressive band not content to stagnate. The technical has been raised indeed, but again its subtle people will only realize that its technical if they try learning the songs.

You have inked a deal with another label. So how did you come in contact with the people of Wickerman Recordings and what are the prospects? Also important for better distribution I guess?
Well it was clear that our partnership with Kolony Records was over, Lorenzo the owner is a great guy but we released two albums with him and felt that for the ‘The Emptiness Within’ he could have done a lot more, but that's life. We now have a management in place and they are the ones who found the deal with Wickerman Recordings. Our management has known Diego, the owner for some time and had a lot of positives to say about him. Their distribution network is good so let’s see the jury is out there. To be fair Vera in 2015, there is not so much a label can do, it is really down to the band to work hard and spend a lot of money!

When seeing the title ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’ I think of the blindness of our politicians. But well, can you as creators tell a bit more about the lyrical contents of the new album? What inspired you mostly this time?
Craig is the lyricist so he would be better placed to explain his lyrics. But yes the general theme of the album is the collective blindness that has engulfed everyone in all aspects of life. Politics is more than ever driven by the same bullshit from politicians on either side, people are just blind to the fact that most western economies are all in a freefall. But its not just blindness in politics, it is about the blindness in the metal scene. ‘Kult Of The Orthodox’ is a direct finger pointing at all these metal fans that believe the crap some apparently 'kult' band say and do, when we all know that these so 'kult' heroes all go back home to their mummy and sit in front of their TV watching daytime soaps with a cup of tea in their hand, thinking about how 'satanic' they can look the next time they go on the road to attract more naive fans.

The title track has a slightly folky touch and even overtones of classic heavy metal that reminded me of Iron Maiden., quite eye-catching in your repertory. What are your thoughts on that?
Thank you, its one of my favourite tracks on the album :-) Well we are all fans of Maiden in this band, so for sure there will be some touch of Steve Harris and Co in our writing. It is funny we didn't plan on making ‘Kingdom Of The Blind’ the title track, but it just summed really well the theme of the album and the general musical direction of the band at this stage, so we called the album that. Believe it or not but when I came up with that vocal riff I was thinking of Cannibal Corpse :-). It is a tough little song to play, but also has one of the best set of guitar solos we've ever done.

Costin Chioreanu did the artwork and that is now becoming a well respected artist. Very accomplished, also in his videos… Can you tell about your cooperation with him for the artwork?
We started working with Costin since ‘The Emptiness Within’ and yes he is great and his success is well deserved. Not only is he a talented artist but also one of the most dependable guys in the music business we know. If he tells you he will deliver something next week, it will be there in your inbox. A rare quality these days especially for someone who is in such high demand from high profile demand. A great guy all around and may his rise continue for a long time! For this album, Craig actually gave more guidelines to Costin than in the past, we wanted a cover that would be more 'metal' whilst remaining subtle and that's what we have achieved I believe.

Would you consider making a video for one of the tracks (maybe with Costin?)
Videos are always nice to make but unfortunately expensive for little benefit in the end. So yes we would love to make another video, but it may make sense to invest our money in other activities like touring for example. Our last video was made by Creativef Junkie and we would probably do it again with them as we were very happy with the results.

When talking about videos, I have the impression that the songs are getting a bit shorter in the course of time. They still have a respectable length of five/six minutes, yet maybe you focus on the essence now or prefer not too long tracks? What is your opinion about that?
Yes it has been a deliberate decision to shorten our songs. One main reason is that we always had this problem in the past with shorter live set supporting other bands. We just couldn't fit a good half hour of songs because of the length of individual songs. We've already started writing the next album, about halfway though it actually and the new songs are about the same length. This doesn't mean that we will not come back to writing long songs at some point.

Huge plans are in the making for touring. Of course we hope that you will come back to the Lowlands, the Netherlands and Belgium. Can you reveal something of the planning?
Actually we had this huge tour supporting two other big bands in the works, but that has now been postponed due to a bereavement in the family of one of the members of the headlining act. It is a frustrating situation as we have this great new album that we want to go and promote live but we will have to wait a little. We decided a while back to stop doing meaningless dates here and there, it doesn't really help the band, we want to focus on bigger tours. So our management is working hard to find a suitable tour in the near future, so I am sure you will get to see us live again. The silver lining is that we are now focusing on writing the fifth album, so it means that De Profundis fans will not have to wait too long before the next album comes out.

Are you ready for it when De Profundis would suddenly boom?
You know Vera that's a very interesting question and I am wondering if you have some spies in our studio. From day one it has always been our ethic, be ready for when the bands explodes and now with this line up more than ever. We are all in position to be on tour whenever necessary, we deliver a kick ass show with top notch musicians, hell we even have our own lighting guy!

We cannot emphasize enough the top notch quality of De Profundis! To occlude, can you give our readers a hint to which audience you would appeal or describe the vibe of your music?
What I ask is for people to remember what attracted them to metal in the first place. Memorable and intelligent song writing, aggression, high level of musicianship and kick ass live shows. Well you will get all that in abundance from De Profundis. If you are looking for a gimmick, then stay away and listen to Babymetal. Once again thank you Vera for supporting us and spreading the word about De Profundis. See you soon!

Thanks a lot for your kind words and eloquent interview!

Geplaatst door Vera op zaterdag 31 oktober 2015 - 22:47:37
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