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Jan-Ole Lamberti : “Consciously we have used more clean vocals, we have used a different guitar sound and overall we made it much more atmospheric.”

Met ’King Delusion’ vestigde het Duitse Nailed To Obscurity zich meteen bij de eminente melodieuze doom/death metal bands die we in de gaten moesten houden. En kijk, voor opvolger ’Black Frost’ zijn ze getekend door Nuclear Blast en dat album vertoont een ravissante muzikale evolutie die we kunnen omschrijven als nog meer diepgang en volwassenheid. Op een koude winteravond zijn we verheugd wanneer niet alleen zanger Raimund Ennenga ons opbelt, maar ook gitarist Jan-Ole Lamberti hangt aan de lijn. Net als voor ‘King Delusion’ werd het een bijzonder openhartig en gezellig gesprek!

Door: Vera Matthijssens – 4 maart 2019

We were already amazed by the previous album ‘King Delusion’, but I think you did a lot of hard work since that record came out in 2017…
Ole: ‘Many things happened since then, indeed. It started already with the interviews for ‘King Delusion’. We noticed that there was much more interest in that album, in comparison with the former ones. Finally we could go on tour with Dark Tranquillity, that was the greatest kick. It is a band we have been fan of since our youth. Touring with them through Europe in a tour bus, that was really ace! Even though they are older than we are, we instantly found out that we have many things in common and we got along very well. What else? We supported At The Gates. We did our first show in the UK, at Bloodstock at the main stage. Incredible!’

Now you are signed by the mighty Nuclear Blast. What’s the story?
Ole: ‘We were signed by a small, but very good label Apostasy Records. The owner is a very good friend of ours, even before we were signed at his label. Now he has started a management office to support us. We are really close friends with him. Now that we are signed with Nuclear Blast, he will take care of our management issues. It is funny, because firstly he did not want to sign us. That was due to a failing concert at a band’s contest.’

Raimund: ‘I was not in the band yet. It was with the previous singer.’

Ole: ‘Yet you were the one who made us drunk. We went there with a bus with sixty fans, but by the time we got there, everybody was drunk as hell, except me and the drummer. Consequently the gig was a failure. Raimund, as fan of the first hour, could not convince Apostasy. Well, anyways, later we were signed, we got more professional in the end. Thanks to the Apostasy guy, we are signed to Nuclear Blast. He agreed it was time for a bigger label.’

Raimund: ‘Coming full circle, the reward for that contest happened to be a gig as support of Dark Tranquillity, that’s the funny thing. In the meantime we have toured with them, with me as singer, the original fan in the crowd.’

What can you tell about the writing process of ‘Black Frost’?
Ole: ‘When gathering the first ideas, we were focused on surpassing ‘King Delusion’ to the utmost. In the end, that was the first album we were really satisfied with, the one that really came up to our expectations. That creates a serious pressure when starting at a successor. Initially the new written songs were too much in the vein of the stuff on ‘King Delusion’. So we threw them away in the garbage and started anew. Few weeks later we started to write again with fresh ideas and that sounded different, but still within our Nailed To Obscurity orbit. This time we were satisfied. Consciously we have used more clean vocals, we have used a different guitar sound, rather ambient like. We diminished the lead parts of the guitars and turned them into a much more atmospheric sound. That’s why the album gets that kind of soaring feel.’

Raimund: ‘On ‘King Delusion’ we already started with that kind of Queen like chants and sensitive parts, rather mellow. We wanted to expand that direction and atmosphere. We still have raucous vocals, but it goes way much broader. I do some whisperings in different ways, I did a lot of experiments with my vocals in the studio, also concerning the clean vocals. Few weeks before the actual recordings, we went to the studio to fine-tune everything with our producer Victor Santura, worked on arrangements and everything that could be done better and needed an upgrade. I think you can hear that we have really worked hard on the vocal lines, going into details to come up with the best result at any level.’

Ole: ‘The basic idea we had in mind for this album, was making it more atmospheric. Even before we started to write songs, we already had this in mind as an important feature.’

And we are very glad with that, since we have more dynamics now…
Ole: ‘That’s what we wanted to achieve. We know that the grunts of Raimund are ace, but if you take them away for a little while during a softer passage, then you get the right dynamics and contrasts you are missing when only growling all the time. Now the heavier parts stand out much more.’

Why the title ‘Black Frost’?
Raimund: ‘It is always important to have a strong title. About this choice, we brainwashed a lot as well during the writing process. I had written a song with ‘Black Frost’ as title and the other guys were quite intrigued by that. Frost is mostly white or transparent you know. I found out about that topic when watching a TV program. When a ship is working its way through moist, mist and cold, there appears a special kind of frost on the mast and the hull, the body of the ship and that’s what they call ‘black frost’. It is dangerous because it can bring the ship out of balance, and make it capsize. This expression can also be reflected on human beings, on mankind. People get out of balance when they suppress emotions and feelings. Feelings such as melancholy, fear or anger. That part of your inner self is important for your mental health. If you don’t canalize emotions, then frustrations are built up. That is the metaphor behind the title and the lyrics of that song, the inner ballast you built up  when ignoring feelings. All lyrics that I write, are reflecting personal experiences, but I try to use metaphors, so that everybody can find its own interpretation of it.’

The song ‘Resonance’, with only clean, serene vocals, is an agreeable surprise…
Ole: ‘That song was only written just before we entered the studio, two days later we started recording the drums. I had this song in my head for a week, but it needed some extra work. When we entered the studio, the moment was right to try it out with Volker, the other guitar player. Initially I recorded it with my own voice via the computer. That’s why we kept that strange distorted vocals in the chorus. It was a strange way of working on vocals, a kind of human vocoder.’

Raimund: ‘For us it remains an exceptional song as well, it really sounds different from what we usually record.’

Ole: ‘That was one of the reasons to write this song. The initial plan was making an interlude of it, but when we worked on it together, it became a proper song. We had to work really hard to finish the album in time. From February till September… mostly during the weekends – weput all our inspiration and time in it. Every weekend from Friday evening till Sunday evening we worked on it in our rehearsal room. During the week we worked on new ideas that were born in the rehearsal room, trying to work them out at home and present them to everybody.’

I guess that your bond with producer Victor Santuri has become even more close after this experience?
Ole: ‘Indeed. He loves the music that we make, but he is also a person we get along with very well. We have always been fans of the things he does with Dark Fortress and Triptykon. When we enter the studio with him, he really becomes the sixth member of the band. It is really an honour and a blessing to work with him. And, by the way, he will replace our bassist Carsten during four of the next shows, because Carsten cannot make it due to other obligations. We never played live with a session musician and to be honest, we did not have a clue where to find a suitable guy. We were talking about that in the studio and said: ‘Victor, you would be the best suitable stand-in’ and to our surprise and joy he decided to help us out.’

What are the plans for the near future?
Ole: ‘The upcoming tour with Amorphis, Soilwork and Jinjer is the only confirmed tour at the moment, but there are some smaller shows booked and during the Summer we will do festivals. Our aim is playing live as much as possible. We just wrote a script for the second video clip. That will be for the song ‘Tears Of The Eyeless’. It will be our first clip with a story. You will not see us too much in the video and that’s also something new for us.’

The artwork was once again done by the Argentinean surrealist Santiago Caruso, but I was surprised to find out that he isn’t a metal fan…
Ole: ‘That’s true. But he likes dark art. He is into dark music, so from time to time he listens to some metal bands or dark folk outfits. Anyways, he likes our music, although he is not a metal fan pur sang. His artwork is very beautiful, we were very satisfied with his work for ‘King Delusion’, thus we asked him again. He made it with only the lyrics of Raimund as guidance.’

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