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Interview Primordial Black

Hello and thank you for the interview. Can you introduce the band?

Hello, thank you for your interest. Primordial Black is a Blackened Death Metal band from Tunisia, consisting of Yasser (myself) on vocals and guitar, Walid on lead guitar, Dalii on bass and Mohamed on drums. Our music blends the literary works of HP Lovecraft, John Milton and Clive Barker, John Dee with music inspired by Celtic Frost, Mgla, Ulcerate and Sepultura.

Does the band's name have anything to do with black holes?

I know the name is confusing, because if you do a Google search, the first thing that comes up is black holes. However, I chose this name because it represents what our music is all about: the primary and primordial value of black. Black is like the ultimate nothingness, in contact with which there's no point in probing any further, only diving into the unknown.

How is the Tunisian metal scene doing? I saw that there's the Mena Rock Festival in Hammamet.

The scene in Tunisia? I can say that the bands are very, very good, the level is staggering and some of them are a real pleasure to see and listen to. Unfortunately, as I said in another interview, the scene is sick because of its self-proclaimed leaders. We're faced with a triumvirate that gives itself the right to decide who has the right to perform and who should be snubbed, blacklisted or simply denigrated.

Apart from Myrath, do any other bands manage to export their music?

Myrath have hit the nail on the head with their music and their millimeter-perfect communication. I confess I'm not a fan, but I totally respect their musical work ethic,  the determination they show, and above all the huge middle finger they've given to mostr of their detractors. The Arabo-Orientalist music mixed with Metal is something that works, and you can see it when you see that they're programmed at mainstream festivals in Tunisia.

How did you get hooked on metal?

All the band members are metalheads. We've all flown a lot of hours. Walid has his own black metal band (Amor Fati) which is about to release its first EP. Dalii is a temp in a cover band that plays in bars. I collaborate with bands left and right. Mohamed, our drummer, is by far the guy with the most impressive track record, having played with Carthgods, Raven's Legacy and Max Cavalera on his only Tunisian date.

How did you come to sign with M&O music?

Alexandre Saba loved our EP and made us an offer. We carefully studied the other offers we'd received and decided to sign with M&O Music, especially in view of the positive feedback we'd received about them. 

Monas Hieroglyphica, your first EP, was released on January 12. The title refers to John Dee's Hieroglyphic Monade. 

Tell me about the title Only Death Is Real?

The title of the song itself is a direct reference to Hellhammer and Celtic Frost's biography. I'm a big fan and I don't hide it. This is the very first demo I created. The riff was heady and I remember composing it when I was playing bass in my old band. The vocal line sounds like a ritual, and the lyrics are the simple statement of a human being coming to terms with the inevitability of the misfortunes we encounter in life. We're all going to grow up, grow old, and at some point see our parents die. Burying your parents is not something you want to do, it's by far one of the worst experiences of your life, but it's unavoidable. 

A normal existence, a daily routine, means moving towards tragic things that will eventually happen, that's just the way it is. You're going to experience illness, the loss of family members or close friends. These things are far from pleasant, but they're inevitable.

Tell me about the creative process for the EP, especially about composing and recording.

In terms of composition, the EP was pretty easy to put together. I composed the whole EP on my own in my home studio before I even had the band with me. Mohamed was the first person to join me on drums, then we had our first guitarist Houssem (Arnost, Vielikan) who helped us evolve into a trio for a while. Then we had Fedor (Vielikan, Omination) who helped us out as bassist, and after he left Walid joined us on bass before switching to lead guitar when Houssem left us, and now we're lucky enough to have Dalii with us who's really the missing link in our line-up. We took the time to record our EP the way we wanted, we didn't compromise and, most importantly we insisted on recording the drums live. I'm convinced that it would be a shame to have a drummer like ours and replace him with a Plugin. It cost me more, and the result isn't too clean and GRID-like, but it's a perfect snapshot of his playing.

When did you start singing?

The vocals came in quite early. I had snippets of vocal tracks on the first demos I'd written. The funny thing is, I didn't know I could sing like that. I tried to copy Tom G. Warrior's intonations and ended up with this vocal that some people find distinctive.

As far as the mix is concerned, all the instruments come together perfectly. Every element of the drums is well highlighted, as is every instrument. The result is an organic groove that's so primal, yet so fine...

I take what you've just said as a huge compliment. As I said earlier, we had the good idea of recording the drums live. So Mohamed played on the guitar tracks from the pre-production demos we'd made. Once we had his final drum tracks, Walid and I re-recorded all our guitars to match the inflections and subtleties of Mohamed's playing, and Yassine Omri (Silver Steel Studio's sound engineer) did a masterful job of giving each instrument the spotlight it needed to shine.

What did you want the album cover to express?

I'm not a fan of covers that are too equivocal or that flirt with the Gringe, under the guise of being Edgy or Trve. The album cover is a metaphor for the Primordial Black we mentioned earlier. A titanic sphere dominates an "Eldritichian" landscape where vines mingle in indescribable chaos to blend with the clouds.

Do you have any dates planned in France?

At the moment I'm answering this interview, it's impossible for me to say more.

Thank you for the interview. I'll leave you the last word for our readers.

I'd like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to discuss our project here. A sincere thank you to all those who gave our first EP a positive reception, and I assure them that our debut album will be even more explosive.

Interview by Virgile


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